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By: Lance Wright

December 2016

Kaylee Keller- Christmas In Your Arms (Single)

Kaylee Keller teams with singer Rusty Rierson on her latest release, a Xmas themed single entitled “Christmas in Your Arms”. This cover of the 1980’s hit for country vocal group Alabama gets refurbished in this new version, but it never strays far from the legendary band’s vision for the song. Great tracks are always flexible and open to revision. It is unfortunate that more country artists, young and old alike, do not take the attitude that the genre’s sacred musical cows aren’t capable of being remolded for new generations of fans. Keller and Rierson never show a syllable of uncertainly singing this song and the confidence guiding them through the performance nicely culminates at all the right points to impress the audience. Keller hasn’t been on the scene for too long, but she shows all the best instincts of longtime vocalists and her interpretative powers are well served by her duet partner.

The country music sound here is much more modern than its predecessor. There’s less of a reliance on guitars, beyond an acoustic track layered just below the surface of the mix, and more of an emphasis on delicately melodic instruments. The piano playing on “Christmas in Your Arms” is simply beautiful and almost neo-classical in its sophistication. It single-handedly accomplishes the majority of the song’s melodic needs without ever once overshadowing the duet. The drumming is particularly impressive and sets an authoritative tone from the start. There sounds like a smattering of fiddle, or violin, in the song’s brief introduction, but it disappears from the mix once the shuffle pace kicks in. The instrumental breaks in the song are kept short and to a minimum, but this isn’t the sort of music played by musicians searching out extended moments of musical glory. The goal is to invoke atmosphere, play around the melody, but don’t play even a note too many. They hit the mark.

Keller and Rierson make an excellent vocal team. They follow the form that Alabama’s singing takes, somewhat, in the sense that they share the verses and only come together in harmony on the song’s choruses. Those moments are quite memorable and reach heights that even the original doesn’t scale. Their vocals, as well, give the song a modern sheen that the original doesn’t have, but their talents are considerable enough that they incorporate strains of the classic country sound that help make Alabama’s version such a lasting success.

Kaylee Keller’s debut EP launched her career off with impressive flair and performances like this will only increase her standing as one of the genre’s most promising talents. She isn’t merely a pretty face, but a fully formed artist who has scarcely scratched the surface of her potential. If this sort of performance is any reliable harbinger of her growth, we can continue to expect great things from Kaylee Keller.

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