“It’s difficult to listen to this single without softening a bit, and remembering what the real reason for the season is.”
Artist: Kate Diaz
Song: “Christmas Smiles”
Genre: Holiday / Pop
RIYL: Anna Nalick, Sara Bareilles, Kate Voegele
It certainly takes a special talent to make original Christmas music palatable in such a way that it’s not cheesy, insincere and musically unsatisfying. In fact, it takes a special kind of talent to make any kind of pop music charming and charismatic without sounding like a cookie cutter. The fact that it’s coming out of the heart and mind of a 16-year-old singer-songwriter makes it even more of an impressive feat. But I don’t want to focus on Kate Diaz as a teenage wonder. The truth is that Kate Diaz has been doing this for several years now (and, in fact, wrote this song at the age of 12); the thing to really take away from this recording (along with her other releases), is that this is exactly how to create a holiday song that’s both memorable and accessible without becoming cliche.
“Christmas Smiles” is bright, pure and clearly rooted in the spirit of the season. Diaz possesses a voice that’s clear and confident, and that charm and charisma shines even brighter than the stars in the sky. This song is begging for a soundtrack; the arrangement, melody and sentiment would wear very well in mass release or as a complement to an independent film.
The production, lyrical content and accompaniment (complete with Diaz on electric guitar) work their magic in freeing up Diaz to deliver a mature and endearing vocal that does, in fact, bring a smile to the face. It’s difficult to listen to this single without softening a bit, and remembering what the real reason for the season is. Major kudos to Kate Diaz for upping the ante in the holiday music genre; what a wonderful way to kick off the season. She has a bright future ahead of her, and no doubt the re-release of this song will help to propel her even further forward toward notoriety outside her hometown of Chicago.
Kate Diaz website: http://www.katediazmusic.com/
*Pay special attention to the “Causes” section of her website, to learn more about how the sales of this song are donated to children’s cancer research.