Thanks to the stylings of Clyde Lawrence, Cody Fitzgerald and the eight-piece band Lawrence of which Clyde is a co-leader with his sister, Gracie Lawrence, there’s now a Christmas album that even those who are disgruntled by holiday music can enjoy.
By creating a whopping 33-song soundtrack for the film Noelle — which was released during Tuesday’s Disney+ launch — Clyde, Fitzgerald and Lawrence exemplify the beauty that can come with Christmas music when it’s done right—by including a little bit of everything.
Clyde and Gracie are no strangers to creating explicably worthwhile music. As their father, Marc Lawrence — who wrote and directed Noelle — was working on Miss Congeniality (2000), he had Clyde, at the ripe age of 6, write the film’s Miss United States pageant theme song. The track, which boasts the infamous “She’s beauty. She’s grace. She’s Miss United States,” was chosen by the film’s producers, which led 6-year-old Clyde to make history as the youngest member of the Songwriters Guild of America.
At first, Clyde went as a solo act, but Gracie eventually joined with six childhood and college friends, and they formed Lawrence. Lawrence joined Jon Bellion for the North American stops on his Glory Sound Prep Tour this past summer and was signed to Bellion’s record label, Beautiful Mind Records, in February.
Fitzgerald leads Stolen Jars, a five-piece indie rock band that wholly appears on a few tracks of this soundtrack. He was pulled into the limelight as an 18-year-old in 2012 when his first album under Stolen Jars was implemented in Apple’s “Do it All” iPad promotion.
The Noelle soundtrack is a mix of the film’s original score, original tracks and covers of Christmas classics. Nine songs don’t even surpass the one-minute mark, and none of the 33 even make it to three-and-a-half minutes, but nonetheless, they’re all faultless.
The covers of “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” and “Santa Claus Is Comin’ To Town,” apply a melodica and rhodes, respectively, two instruments that are integral to Lawrence’s distinct sound. “Noelle’s Theme” possesses the classic feel-good vibe of the holiday season. Clyde and Fitzgerald perfectly blend harmonies and infectious production on “Skating,” simply making magic. It’s impossible to not develop an infatuation for an album that was so evidently made with passion.
Here are the best five songs from the sheer perfection that is the Noelle soundtrack:
5. “This Christmas”
Lawrence, known for its infectious energy live, knew better than to skip over an upbeat, jazzy Christmas song. Originally performed by Donny Hathaway in 1970, “This Christmas” features the delight of someone who has seemingly found the one and how all their soulmate’s characteristics will overshadow the much-awaited holiday in its entirety. Backed by Clyde’s gorgeous harmonies and a vigorous trumpet from Marc Langer, Gracie does the classic track justice, as her delicate vocals transition to higher octaves so effortlessly.
4. “We Wish You a Stressful Christmas”
This track is well-named for its bothersome nature of making listeners think they know where the song is going, but Clyde and Fitzgerald continually trick them. In just 72 seconds, “We Wish You a Stressful Christmas” turns the much beloved classic “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” into an immensely frustrating entity. The exquisite production, using strings and a xylophone, among other instruments, plays the classic’s recognizable chorus about halfway through but dips off before completing it. The track ends without striking the last measly note, and it’s brilliant, chaotic nature will leave you thinking about it for hours.
“Eventually” is an original from Lawrence, though it encompasses the refreshing vibe of “The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire)” by Nat King Cole. The track opens with the pluck of a harp and Clyde’s stimulating harmonies before Gracie’s honeyed vocals take listeners to an airy wonderland. On perhaps the saddest track of the album, Gracie looks ahead, hoping there’s more to come for her than the so-so life her persona has seemed to experience: “Will there ever be a time when the stars will all align? / And I will come to find what’s meant for me / We’ll take it day by day, try to steer my sleigh / There’s nothing more to say than ‘eventually.’”
2. “Merry Christmas Baby”
Lawrence tackles another overdone cover, “Merry Christmas Baby,” yet the eight-piece knows how to make everything it touches its own. Originally recorded by Charles Brown but known more for its renditions from Otis Redding and Billy Idol, the track resembles just as much positive energy as the aforementioned covers. Clyde and Gracie, guided by Sumner Becker and Jordan Cohen on the saxophone, sing as beautifully raspy as possible: “Merry Christmas, baby / You sure do treat me nice / You bought me all those lovely things / … I feel like I’m in paradise.”
1. “Be Nice”
Lawrence, DAP The Contract and Stolen Jars teamed up before on Hi-Lo Jack’s lovely “So It Goes,” among others, so it’s no surprise to see them back together and better than ever. Funky synths, a trumpet and upbeat keys boost DAP The Contract’s charming nature as he discusses changing himself for the better: “I complain about the same things, don’t know what to do / I done did a lot of talking; I ain’t did a lot of good / But I’m back, and I’m better.” Clyde goes on to promote the message of maintaining a positive outlook amid the cold winter: “Snow is falling; what to do? / Be nice / Winter’s warm when I’m with you / Be nice.” The track blends the distinctive styles of each artist into one cohesive, catchy anthem, and it’s the best on the Noelle soundtrack.