Title - New Star Shining
Artist - Orleans
For those unaware, Orleans has just released their first and only Christmas album entitled New Shining Star.
Subconsciously, the group — which is about to celebrate its 50th anniversary in 2022 — must have been working on the holiday collection for decades.
Orleans co-founder Lance Hoppen says, “The material comes from various sources, most written internally and some by friends from other bands. Some had previously recorded lives elsewhere and were remastered, others had previous starts but underwent major revisions and upgrades. Some were cut from scratch in isolation. Some are purely secular, while others center around the Christmas story.”
1. New Star Shining
2. Quiet Place
3. Jinglin’ in New England
4. Mary’s Christmas
5. I Wish I Could’ve Been There
6. The Sound of Christmas
7. Mary Had a Baby (Traditional)
8. Snowed in With You
9. I’m Comin’ Home for Christmas
10. I Wish I Could Fly
11. Winter Wonderland
12. Ballad of the Christmas Day Cowboy
This simply heavenly divine holiday album opens on the lushly orchestrated title track New Star Shining and the harmonic Quiet Place and backs those up seamlessly with the upbeat, guitar-infused Jinglin’ in New England, the melodic storytelling of Mary’s Christmas, and then we get smooth flow of I Wish I Could’ve Been There and the rich embrace of The Sound of Christmas is brought forth.
Next up is one of my own personal favorites from this album, the dulcetly harmonized traditional Mary Had a Baby which is in turn followed by the free flowing Snowed in With You, the joyous I’m Comin’ Home for Christmas, the album rounding out on the ’50s-imbued balladry of I Wish I Could Fly, the R&B foot-tapper Winter Wonderland, coming to a close on the countrified Ballad of the Christmas Day Cowboy.
John and Johanna Hall co-wrote the title track, New Star Shining which the band recorded in 1994 for a Woodstock Holidays CD released only in Japan.
The group’s only Christmas song until now, it was also cut as a duet by Ricky Skaggs and James Taylor and which this version features shared lead vocals by John, Larry Hoppen, Lance and Bob Leinbach.
The acclaimed songwriting duo also co-wrote Snowed In With You, I Wish I Could’ve Been There with Tad Richards, and Quiet Place with Jonell Mosser.
I Wish features Little Feat’s Bill Payne on piano and multi-instrumentalist John Jorgenson (the Desert Rose Band and The Hellecasters) playing mandolin and Snowed In shines with Dan Dugmore’s pedal steel and Andrea Zonn’s fiddle.
Two more historical recordings came from the Hoppen family. Lance found his late brother Larry’s version of Winter Wonderland on YouTube, which was recorded for a 2010 Rock Xmas Foundation charity.
Larry, Lance, brother Lane and sister Lynda sang the introduction of the traditional song Mary Had a Baby around 1985 at a Hoppen Family holiday gathering; Lance found the tape, a snippet of which was digitized and included.
The band then recreated the entire four-part harmony arrangement during the pandemic.
Fly Amero contributed three songs: Jinglin’ In New England was written with his wife Donna with the other Fly songs including Ballad of the Christmas Day Cowboy (a collaboration with platinum country writer Robert Ellis Orrall) and I Wish I Could Fly, written with Allen Estes, featuring Beaver Brown Band’s keyboardist, Steve Burke.
Other songs include Mary’s Christmas, originally recorded by The Little River Band, and I’m Coming Home for Christmas originally recorded by Ambrosia’s Joe Puerta and The Sound of Christmas came from Orleans alumnus Chip Martin, who’s written for Billy Paul and Randy Meisner.
Band members on New Shining Star:
John Hall: Guitars & Vocals
Lance Hoppen: Bass & Vocals
Fly Amero: Guitars & Vocals
Lane Hoppen: Keyboards & Vocals
Brady Spencer: Drums & Vocals
Historical contributions from former members Bob Leinbach, Larry Hoppen.
Orleans’ New Star Shining will be on all digital platforms and available in music stores and holiday catalogs.
Official Purchase Link