Music Review: Songs For Carmella

When Christina Perri (best known for her hit singles “Jar of Hearts” and “A Thousand Years“) first announced a few months ago that she was releasing a new album, social media was left speculating about it. Would it be filled with inspiring anthems, such as the songs found on her 2014 album Head or Heart? Would artists such as Ed Sheeran be featured (whether co-writing a track or actually singing on it)?

In the span of the last 4 or 5 years since her last album, the 32-year-old singer-songwriter has accomplished a lot, both in her personal life and career. She started recording new music, got married, and had a baby last year. So it’s no surprise that she decided to name her latest record after her daughter. Songs for Carmella: Lullabies and Sing-Alongs.

Now I know what you might be thinking… why would I be reviewing a children’s album– despite the fact that I’m a young adult who hasn’t listened to this type of music in about 15 years?

Well, for one thing, I am a huge fan of artists who are authentic and genuine, both on and off the stage! And in a December 2018 interview with PEOPLE Magazine, Christina stated the following:

“Putting out new songs that I sang to [Carmella] all year feels so authentic and genuine as to where I’m at in my real life. I am a huge fan of when people are authentic of where people are at.”

But also there’s a sentimental aspect to the whole thing that I absolutely love. Let me explain.

I saw Christina perform live in 2014, right after she had released the aforementioned Head or Heart album. She was opening for Demi Lovato on tour that year… and while I knew some of her songs, I have to admit I wasn’t all that familiar with her music prior to the concert. Long story short: she’s amazing! Her voice is insanely powerful, the lyrics to her songs are inspiring, and her whole performance that night left me in awe. She covered Coldplay’s mega-hit “A Sky Full of Stars” and made it a million times better than the original! I immediately followed her on Facebook and Twitter after the concert, and have been following her career ever since. So of course I was excited to hear she would be releasing new music again… and when I actually learned what the album was going to be about, the memories immediately flooded my mind.

I’ve always been into music ever since I was a baby… and according to my mom, I used to LOVE my lullaby albums! Every night before bed, my mom would sit in the rocking chair with me and rock me to sleep while we listened to “my lullabies” (as we referred to them back then). This was a special moment between us that we shared until I was about six (when I finally traded lullaby albums for Hannah Montana music). There were some times when she would even sing to me, taking over the prerecorded vocals (if there were any) on these CDs. I fondly look back on these memories and smile… and I now understand why– at almost 20– I still get emotional whenever I hear “Silent Night” or “You Are My Sunshine…” the latter of which is, coincidentally, the opening track on this album I’m reviewing.

“You Are My Sunshine,” originally recorded in 1939 by a band called the Pine Ridge Boys, has been covered by countless artists over the years… however at this particular time in my life, I don’t think I’ve heard a rendition that’s as beautiful as this. Christina starts it off singing acapella, with the quiet accompaniment of strings in the background, before gradually fading to a whisper on the last note. It’s short but sweet, at only 1 minute and 22 seconds, and I feel that her talent really shines the most in songs like this one (where the instrumentation is stripped down to almost nothing). She has this indie-pop sound to her voice (reminiscent of someone like Ingrid Michaelson) that I haven’t really noticed before.

Other highlights include the playful original “You Mean the Whole Wide World To Me“, a stripped-down lullaby version of her hit single “A Thousand Years“, and a piano-based rendition of “Tonight You Belong To Me” (originally made famous by Gene Austin in 1927, and once again recorded by many artists over the years). One thing to note about Christina is that she has recorded many songs for the Mouse House in the past (she sang that “Forever Young” song in the Disneyland Diamond Celebration commercials a few years ago… does anyone else remember those?), so she is basically a Disney artist who happens to be signed to Atlantic Records. With that being said, it’s no surprise a few songs from the entertainment empire made the cut… including a rendition of “You’ve Got A Friend In Me” from Toy Story, that– with the ukulele in the background– literally screams ADORABLE!

Since the album dropped this past Thursday, the social media world has had mixed reactions. Some fans (mostly with children themselves) are loving this new side to Christina Perri, while others are patiently waiting for her to release “Jar of Hearts” or “Burning Gold” 2.0.  Keep in mind, we’re talking about an album which is aimed towards children, so naturally her voice isn’t going to be as powerful and the production is at a minimum, compared to her previous recording efforts. However, with all that in mind this is still a beautiful project that showcases a new side of the singer. 5/5 stars

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