Pentatonix was ready for Christmas before Halloween with their new album ‘Evergreen’

Pentatonix’s ‘Evergreen’ 2021 album cover.

For the holidays, you can’t beat PTX sweet PTX.

Mitch Grassi, Scott Hoying, Kirstin Maldanado, Kevin Olusola and Matt Sallee, better known as Pentatonix, released their 2021 Christmas album “Evergreen” on Oct. 29. PTX preceded the full album drop with “It’s Been A Long, Long Time,” which you might know from Marvel’s “Avengers: Endgame”, and Stevie Wonder’s “I Just Called To Say I Love You.” Both songs set the tone for the rest of the album: short, but sweet. 

The album is roughly 40 minutes, which is shorter in comparison to their most popular Christmas album. PTX has released five other Christmas albums, but the one that set them apart from any other a cappella group was their “That’s Christmas To Me” album from 2015 that was nearly 50 minutes in length. The album consisted of 16 Christmas songs, one being an original and the title of the album.

Similarly, the “Evergreen” album consists of 14 songs, including their original which shares the same name as the album. The original song is not a cappella, but is instead accompanied by a simple guitar plucking melody throughout. Maldanado, Grassi and Hoying open the track and are later joined by Sallee and Olusola.

Olusola, the beatboxer, makes a few voice debuts on this album. Olusola’s voice isn’t guaranteed to make an appearance on every album like his beatboxing is, but it is always a pleasant surprise. His voice is so good it almost makes me wish there was a sixth person purely dedicated to beatboxing, but the rarity of his singing parts makes them that much more enjoyable.

The song “Evergreen” is about a mother’s love and how it kept the holiday season alive and full of love. Whether it be through holiday tradition or simple decorations around the house, a mother’s love truly can shape the way we see our holidays. PTX found the perfect words and sound to capture that feeling of holiday love and care. 

PTX has always managed to make amazing original music, which can be thoroughly seen in their 2015 “Pentatonix” album which includes more originals than covers. That same year they released their infamous “That’s Christmas To Me” album with their original Christmas song that also shared the name of the album.

Because of the amount of songs they put on their Christmas albums each year, one might fear that they could run out of holiday songs in the near future. But, with their ability to write, arrange and compose the way that they do, even if they were to run out, it’s doubtful that they wouldn’t have anything to provide for their fans. 

Although their last few Christmas albums have been great, I often find myself listening to their “The Best of Pentatonix Christmas” 2019 album and/or the album that most of those songs come from which is their “That’s Christmas To Me” album. But, this collection has accumulated many listens from me, so many in fact that I feel confident saying this might be their second best Christmas album, because nothing will compare to “That’s Christmas To Me.”

There have been some undeniably fantastic Christmas covers over the years. Their covers of “You’re a Mean One Mr. Grinch,” originally performed by Thurl Ravenscroft, with Sallee, their bass, singing lead throughout the song’s duration, and their immensely complicated rendition of the “12 Days of Christmas,” originally performed by Andy Williams, could be found playing on repeat well into my summer every year. 

The thing that makes this album special is what makes their 2015 Christmas album so special: the feeling they captured. With a cappella music the tendency when arranging is to capture the audience’s attention and keep them involved without the presence of instrumentation. In doing this, the emotion can be harder to find.

Emotion tends to shine through more in simple songs. This is because not everyone is able to actively listen to everything happening in a complex song, which is why slower songs are oftentimes deemed much more emotional than faster tempo songs with a bigger sound. But here is a counterpoint: Adele.

Over the years, Adele has mastered tugging on her audience’s heartstrings regardless of the tempo and instrumentation of her songs. Similarly, it seems Pentatonix has hit their stride once more with this new collection. Although there are still some extremely complicated and impressive arrangements on this album, it seems like they somehow captured the feeling of the holidays.

Because of 2020, everyone’s holiday season was spent differently than previous, and it feels like PTX is giving their fans everything they missed and more from last year bundled up into a bunch of beautiful melodies. 

It’s important to remember that PTX is so much more than an a cappella group and this album definitely supports that claim. This isn’t just to say that they sometimes do have instrumental accompaniment, these are five of some of the most musically gifted people in the music industry today. Each member of PTX brings something absolutely absurd, in the best way, to the table. 

Hoying, the unofficial lead of the group, has a vocal range of four octaves. As if that wasn’t impressive enough, Grassi, the tenor of the group, has a vocal range of six octaves. On top of all of their diverse vocal ranges, each of them are extremely skillful composers. 

That being said, their cover of “Over the River,” originally written as a children’s poetry book by Lydia Maria Child, featuring Lindsey Stirling, an incredibly talented violinist, only gets better and better with each listen. That statement can be applied to every song on this album, including their simpler covers that are sprinkled in between their immensely complicated arrangements. Then again … no arrangement done by PTX should ever be summarized as “simple,” that feels borderline sacrilegious to say. 

“Evergreen” is worth at least one listen from each Christmas music conisioure, and at least 20 listens from each PTX conisioure. This is a great combination of classic, abstract and original Christmas music guaranteed to make you appreciate the holidays that much more.