…“Santa’s Takin’ Over The Town” celebrates the human experience, a musical journey that embraces the highs, lows, and everything in-between. "
…"Santa's Taking Over the Town features 10 new songs, all originals, all bubbling over with the Christmas spirit and sound, and all some of the best new Christmas music you will hear this year."
-Merry and bright!
…"Rehya Stevens understands the power of setting a festive musical table that invites one and all, with a great-big warm welcome."
…"A follow-up to her critically acclaimed 2018 holiday album, Celebrate, ’Tis the Season finds Rehya offering another set of all-new, soon-to-be Christmas classics…"
A MUSIC COLLECTORS MAGAZINE
…"Here's my "review": Damn, she's good!… When you can translate such an experience into music, you are truly gifted. And Rehya is."
Stubby’s House Of Christmas .
…"Whether throwing your hands up in the air to “Love Party”, rocking out to “Yeah Yeah (We Got It)” or swaying in your seat to “Ride or Die” Secrets of a Celebrity Nanny is certain to captivate and indulge viewers in the intoxicating world of celebrity life.
-Pop Culture Press
…"Love Party" promises to be the ultimate summer anthem, sparking a movement of positivity and unity. Rehya Stevens invites music lovers to join her in this celebration of resilience and collective strength."
…"‘Early Winter’ is one of the most beautiful, thoughtful, and introspective pieces of music I’ve heard all year!"
…"With a little Vegas glitz and a sprinkling of holiday fairydust, it is like being transported back to the officer's mess on New Year's Eve 1945 while you kick up your heels. Timeless yet timely, it's the non-holiday holiday anthem we didn't know we needed."
-My Fizzy Pop
('The Good Life' Review)
…"With infectious melodies and eloquent lyrics, "Celebrate" is an ultra-passionate collection of classic folky pop, old-school jazz - and fiery swinging' blues - with a vibrant, contemporary - yet nostalgic perspective."
…“Every song is about ten rungs above anything else you'll hear this holiday season.”
(Stubby's House Of Christmas)
…"Rehya Stevens is not one to take the path of least resistance. In her new album Celebrate Rehya has jumped into the deep end of the Christmas pool with songs that are all original. The album is warm, bold and festive… From sacred to secular, from joyous to reflective — it is all there."
(My Merry Christmas)
…"beautifully produced, perfectly melodic and deeply satisfying."
-200 Days Of Christmas
…"Unlike traditional tried and true Christmas songs, 'Tis The Season brings something fresh, yet evergreen to the same old holiday playlist."
MY FESTIVE FIZZY POP
- Christmas Is Near ~ the album opens with a song as opulent and radiant as the Rockefella Christmas tree; a layered wall of sound so glorious it feels like the opening number of the greatest Christmas musical yet to be made (though I'm happy to write it for next year). Joyful horns, playful strings and Rehya's lovely engaging vocal all coalesce to make this a wondrous celebration. There's a considered ebb and flow to the song that helps build anticipation and make those crescendo moments really sparkle. When she sings the titular refrain and majestic brass blasts, it is all the heralding of the upcoming season that you need. Merry and bright!
- Don't Be Late ~ what is not to love about a love letter to Santa? And by love, I mean the huge affection we have for the jolly character. There is a frisky frolic to this impatient shopping list of things to do on Christmas Eve that are so relatable you'll be checking your own list (twice) to ensure you've got everything done. The music is so deliriously giddy (with convivial backing vocals to Rehya's excited delivery) that the longing is positively tangible. It's a warm hug of a song that you'll want to play over and over while you wait for Rudolph to land on your roof.
- Santa's Takin' Over The Town ~ talk about excellent sequencing of the tracks on the album. Straight after Rehya has detailed all the anticipation for those waiting at home for Saint Nick, we get a rockin' rollickin' different perspective of the night before Christmas. It is a bluesy romp that feels like you have stumbled into a downtown bar with the most excellent act performing live on stage. The good times are flowing so liberally that you'll want to grab the one you love and shimmy. Pretty darn hard all the way until 23.59 on Christmas Eve...
- Be My Baby By Christmas Night ~ this is actually quite a melancholy song, all about missing the one you love at a time of the year when everyone seems to have someone (and if they don't, the Christmas movies teach us they will somehow find love, actually, on Christmas Eve). Apparently, this was written about Rehya's missing cat (who did come home with a devil-may-care shrug) but the lyrics are so universal that it can apply to lovers, lost friends, old acquaintances... sure there is a poignant sorrow to the lyrics but the music is so ebullient and exhilarating that you can't help but feel every ounce of hope in the song.
- Early Winter ~ my lovely mum (who now has advanced dementia) was a huge advocate of Christmas music being released early in the season. "Why wait for December when you can have ten weeks or so of this magic on your stereo" she would opine as she put The Carpenters Christmas Portrait in the car cassetete player in October. So she would adore Early Winter - a gorgeous, reflective composition that sees Rehya in a contemplative mood. The instrumental caresses her nuanced performance and wraps around her heartache - sung with such lovelorn eloquence. Absolutely captivating.
- Christmas Is Comin' Again ~ often, when I listen to Rehya sing, I'm transported back to the soundstages of old school Hollywood where her sound is as timeless as movie musicals like White Christmas and Meet Me In St Louis. On this ravishing number, there is a Doris Day smoothness to the performance that would have sounded as great 60 years ago as it will in 60 years time. All the world is a tinsel town - Rehya paints a winter wonderland as plush as the most detailed of Christmas card covers. A melodic gem.
- Wonderful World Tonight ~ the spell that December 24th casts over the world is a jubilant theme of this album; Wonderful World Tonight encourages you to kick up your heels and make the most of the sparkling glitter that always seems to be showering our spirits. A finger click beat propels the perky score whilst a splendid sax solo in the middle 8 adds some decadence to this already opulent composition. Rehya is having such a good time on these songs that her mood is utterly infectious.
- Me, Myself & I ~ there's always time for an introspective, blues-inspired ballad, powered by Hammond organ style chords and a vocal that slides across the melody like an Olympic skater on the rink. I often think we are hardest on ourselves for our flaws and the heightened emotions of the season put these into stark perspective. Rehya mourns the situation she's in and her emotive outpouring is perhaps the musical salve we all need to get through the tougher times of the holidays.
- Welcome One and All ~ remember how I said the opening track felt like it belonged in a yet to be written musical; this mesmerising ballad would feature towards the end of Act Two (when all the fractured relationships are healed and everyone comes together) - sung as a soliloquy before some rousing finale moment. I particularly like the line "whether you sing Hallelujah or never say Amen"; all are equal in Rehya's world - and isn't that how we all should be?
- Spread A Little Love For Christmas ~ pop rhythms drizzle this song like cream on a peppermint mocha (and just a sweet); a splendiferous invitation to just do a little better and embrace the spirit of the season so that its as magnificent as possible for as many as possible. It is like a Christmas remix of Waka Waka by Shakira yet wholly Rehya whose personality (as throughout the opus) shines like the brightest star in the firmament. Guaranteed to put a smile on your face and getting you to hit repeat and start the album all over again.
THE GATEKEEPER SPACE
Rehya Unwraps Holiday Magic With "Santa's Takin' Over The Town
Rehya Stevens, an award-winning artist, has released a new Christmas album titled, “Santa's Takin' Over The Town.” The album features ten original songs that capture the essence of Christmas past and present, taking listeners on a musical journey through the diverse emotions that the season brings.
The album opens with the upbeat ‘Christmas is Near,’ followed by the mischievous ‘Don’t Be Late’ and the high-energy rockabilly vibes of the title track ‘Santa’s Takin’ Over The Town.’ However, the album also explores the bittersweet side of the season with ‘Early Winter,’ which delivers a poignant reminder of the melancholy that often accompanies the holidays.
The album also includes ‘Christmas Is Comin’ Again,’ which offers a stroll through the simple pleasures of the holidays, and ‘Me, Myself & I,’ which adds a touch of bluesy realism, depicting the lonelier side of Christmas. ‘Welcome One & All’ provides a spiritual moment, urging listeners to embrace compassion and widen the welcome table.
The album concludes with the uplifting ‘Spread A Little Love For Christmas,’ a rhythmic, island-infused track that encapsulates the spirit of the entire collection. The standalone single ‘Wonderful World Tonight’ is a festive anthem, capturing the essence of youthful holiday revelry.
Rehya Stevens aims to create lasting moments of joy with this album, infusing people with great fun, compassion, and appreciation for every person at the holiday dinner table, year after year. “Santa’s Takin’ Over The Town” celebrates the human experience, a musical journey that embraces the highs, lows, and everything in-between.
I must be feeling festive because I’m about to share my second Christmas album of the year. This time it comes courtesy of California, USA-based artist Rehya Stevens with an all-original collection to celebrate the holidays. It’s called Santa’s Takin’ Over The Town.
By Graeme Smith
Though Rehya’s collection is an all-original one, there’s certainly a familiarity about it that means those who love the traditional Christmas songs will find a lot to enjoy about it. In fact, you might even discover a new favourite. The album draws from her own experiences of the season as a youngster, meaning there’s a beautiful authenticity to its storytelling.
It opens with Christmas Is Near. It’s a lively and rousing effort that welcomes us to the holidays with bright brass and cinematic strings, all topped off by Rehya’s captivating vocals. Don’t Be Late follows with a jaunty and jazzy tale rich with nostalgia before we arrive at title track Santa’s Takin Over The Town. With its punchy blues rock arrangement, it provides an early highlight.
Be My Baby By Christmas keeps things upbeat while introducing some romance to proceedings. It’s a vibrant pop ballad that feels like an instant classic.
Early Winter slows things down a little with a meditative, acoustic moment. Christmas Is Comin’ Again then brings back the party with a bouncy throwback. Wonderful World Tonight paints a perfect picture of snow and merriment and gives us another album highlight.
Me, Myself & I brings back the blues. Rehya’s vocals are at their most soulful during its alternative holiday story. Welcome One & All takes things in a more philosophical direction with its gentle, piano-led message of inclusion and non-judgment. Spread A Little Love For Christmas then closes the album with a surprise tropical number, leaning into Rehya’s pop chops. It’s a final twist and highlight.
Santa’s Takin’ Over The Town was produced by film and TV composer Brian Steckler. You can give it a listen below.
Santa's Takin' Over The Town Review
Santa's Takin' Over The Town by REHYA STEVENS is a fun mix of nostalgic and brand-new. It captures the flavour of the traditional Christmas tracks that defined many childhood Christmas experiences. However, she does so with a modern edge, putting her spin on the classic sound.
Opening up with Christmas Is Near, the track sets the tone with bells, a shiny timbre, and staccato strings. It builds up this palpable sense of anticipation for the holiday season. This track also sheds light on Stevens’ emphatic and bold vocal style that defines her sound.
The titular track, Santa’s Takin’ Over The Town, changes the vibe with rock energy, created by syncopated guitars and blues runs on the piano. Along with a fun and light-hearted brass accompaniment, the track successfully pushes the sound in a different direction, adding to its overall diversity.
After this left turn, the album settles into a traditional Christmas sound, with tracks like Christmas is Comin’ Again. I love the call-and-response harmony it uses. This technique reminded me of The Beach Boys. It sounds distinctly vintage, almost like a forgotten Christmas classic from decades ago.
Wonderful World Tonight steals the show. This track has the perfect mix of energy and boldness that makes the album joyous while utilizing a shiny and bright timbre. You can almost feel the cold wind whistling past you when you listen to this one. The vocal performance from Stephens ebbs and flows with the composition and oozes charisma from start to finish. Her excitement about the holidays is contagious. It immerses you in the track as a listener, drawing even the biggest scrooges into its irresistible holiday cheer.
Overall, this album feels unquestionably positive with a contagious and optimistic energy. Its ability to evolve its sonic palette while feeling like one journey from beginning to end is impressive.
Unboxing Magic: Rehya Stevens' 'Santa's Takin' Over The Town' - The Best Christmas Gift!
Friday, November 10, 2023
Rehya Stevens - New Christmas Album!
Rehya Stevens, great friend of Merry & Bright and first-ballot M&B Hall of Famer (if I ever get around to creating a Merry & Bright Hall of Fame) is back in 2023 with a new album of Christmas music. Santa's Taking Over the Town features 10 new songs, all originals, all bubbling over with the Christmas spirit and sound, and all some of the best new Christmas music you will hear this year.
But wait! There's more! Santa's Taking Over the Town is available as a Deluxe Edition CD, personally signed with love and affection by Rehya, and including Rehya's 2021 Tis the Season album. That's 21 songs by the reigning West Coast Empress of Christmas music! You can find this and all of Rehya's music on her website.
Rehya Stevens is a truly gifted musician, songwriter, and singer, and her decision to favor us with so many new Christmas songs is truly a blessing. Since her debut holiday album Celebrate, she has honed her craft, and, surrounded by top-tier musicians and producers, creates shining, glowing, tree-topper-worthy Christmas songs. Rehya explores many genres - pure pop, bluesy, upbeat rockers, sentimental, and spiritual.
The album opener "Christmas is Near" has the sound of a throwback to the golden age of Christmas music, superbly orchestrated and majestic. "Don't Be Late" has a whimsical feel, Christmas traditions and waiting for Santa through the eyes of a child. It brings back to me all those Christmas Eve feelings from when I was 7 years old.
"Santa's Takin' Over the Town" has a definite Chuck Berry vibe going on. Classic rock and roll beats and licks, awesome piano playing, and a whoopin' hoopin' song about Santa and Rudolph hittin' the town. (This is a Der Bingle fave...)
"Be My Baby by Christmas Night" is an ode to someone very special to Rehya. I won't give it away here, but if you visit Rehya's Facebook page you'll find the whole story.
"Early Winter" is a sentimental look at the passing of seasons, our relationships, our memories, and times happy and sad. It's an absolutely beautiful song.
In "Me, Myself & I", Rehya belts out the blues - whoa!
The album closes with "Spread a Little Love for Christmas", a tropical-sounding fun little ditty with a happy, party attitude. It's a dance celebration of a song, full of energy and positivity!
Rehya Stevens is one of the nicest, kindest, and positive people I know. She is a genuine, caring person, and has made friends with many of us in the Christmas music collector community. I think that everyone who has gotten to know Rehya, if not in person than via e-mail, Zoom, podcast recording, etc, will agree that she is a treasure as a human being, one who carries the spirit of Christmas with her always.
Please follow Rehya on her Facebook page - you'll hear lots from her this season, as she shares stories about Santa's Taking Over the Town, Tis the Season, and more!
Oh - and you just might hear a bit from Rehya herself here at Merry & Bright, if you're all on the Nice List.