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JFH Music Review

Poema, Once A Year: A Poema Christmas EP

Once A Year: A Poema Christmas EP

Artist Info: Discography
Album length: 5 tracks: 18 minutes, 57 seconds
Street Date: November 16, 2010

One of the more peculiar signings in recent Tooth & Nail Records history, sister-sister duo Poema (comprised of Elle and Shealeen Puckett) made a name for themselves earlier this year with their debut EP Sing It Now. The style they carried in their first effort wasn't anything complicated or really all that profound, but something about their approach was charismatic and comforting to the listener. Incidentally, their approach is carried on through their Christmas project, Once A Year: A Poema Christmas EP, which boasts five more tracks for their newfound fanbase of holiday joy and merriment.

Like with every EP, Poema only gets a few songs to work with. It is immediately evident from the first track, "Have Yourself a Merry Christmas," that this EP picks up right where Sing It Now left off. The semi-sweet melodies with acoustic guitars and keyboards make a return, but for the Christmas theme the Pucketts implement, it fits interestingly well. Slow and serene, the vocals jump out to carry the old favorite along in deft fashion. "Wool Coats" reflects on winter memories, pastimes and romance, and to be picky about it, it's really not a Christmas song at all; but with a few saxophone interludes, the song is quite a charming original.

While the first two tracks succeed at what they aim for, the other three falter in a few spots. Poema's cover of Mindy Smith's "Santa Will Find You" stands out with the inclusion of a string section and a hauntingly fitting guest spot by Aaron Marsh of the late band Copeland, but the song's theme feels misguided. With lines such as "If you're far away on this holiday eve, and you're dreaming of being at home/if you're worried at all that you may be forgotten, you should know that you aren't alone.../so don't worry because Santa will find you/wherever you are, Santa will find you tonight," the song seems to advocate finding comfort in the commercialized aspect of Christmas instead of the true Reason of why we celebrate the holiday. "So Much More" somewhat falls into the same hole as well, focusing more on the love of family and friends (and the accompanying gifts to open on Christmas morning) rather than love of Christ that makes Christmas what it is. The EP isn't completely devoid of Jesus' birth, however, as Poema concludes with an acceptable adaptation of "Little Drummer Boy." Call it nitpicky, but when the duo decides to change the words from "I am a poor boy too" to "I am a poor one too" to awkwardly "de-genderize" the song, maybe a different song would have been wiser to cover.

On the surface, Once A Year: A Poema Christmas EP isn't a bad product at all from the Pucketts, and the style Poema exhibits fit the songs reasonably well to keep the entire project afloat. However, with not a whole lot of emphasis on the Nativity and more on the "stuff" of Christmastime and the cold weather, the EP borders on being disappointingly shallow. Fans of the duo will dig into this short set with little problem, but anyone looking for a more profound or spiritual look at Christmas won't miss much bypassing this effort.

- Review date: 11/14/10, written by Roger Gelwicks of

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JFH Staff's Second Opinion

Poema's debut EP, Sing It Now, followed along the same path as artists like Colbie Caillat and Michelle Branch. With Elle and Shealeen Puckett being so young, the lyrics were understandably a little on the immature side, but the EP as a whole easily put a grin on the listeners' faces. This year, they're joining in with the annual plethora of Christmas albums with their own five-song EP called Once A Year. The EP, comprised of three Christmas carols and covers and two Poema originals, opens with "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas." Elle's guitar playing combined with Shealeen's gentle piano accompany the girls' soft vocals, giving it that Christmas sound that we all look forward to every year. The other classic is the closing track, "Little Drummer Boy." Poema's rendition stays true to the way it's been played many times over and again, and also includes a string section in the latter half of the song, giving it an operatic sound. It's heartfelt and a great addition to this year's Christmas music collection. Their originals fit right in, with sweet and innocent, dreamy lyrics that embody the traditional Christmas feel. "Wool Coats" starts off similarly to "Safe To Say" from Sing It Now, but also incorporates a saxophone to give it more of a jazz sound. Lyrically, it's about spending the cold winter nights with a loved one by the fireplace, while "Santa Will Find You" has a soothing droning sound in the background along with some mild drums while the girls sing about a long-distance loved one feeling lonely on Christmas. Of the two originals, "So Much More" may be the highlight. It starts with a jolly piano intro that instantly makes the listener feel good inside. The chorus is upbeat as they recall that Christmas isn't about the presents, but the "realization that it's love that fills us more and more." Sing It Now was a delightful EP, and it made listeners such as myself anxious to hear what the girls could do with a full-length and a little time to grow as artists. With a possible full-length next year (maybe?), it was a real treat to hear what they could offer in the meantime. The fact that it's a Christmas EP is even better. They do a great job embodying the cheery spirit of Christmas, and it looks like their songwriting skills are improving. I hope to hear more Christmas music like this in the future. - Scott Fryberger, 11/8/10


. Record Label: Tooth & Nail Records
. Album length: 5 tracks: 18 minutes, 57 seconds
. Street Date: November 16, 2010
. Buy It: iTunes
. Buy It: AmazonMP3

  1. Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas (3:43)
  2. Wool Coats (4:31)
  3. Santa Will Find You (3:21)
  4. So Much More (3:56)
  5. Little Drummer Boy (3:28)
spacer Click For Audio Sample   Click For Song Lyrics
Click For Audio Sample   Click For Song Lyrics
Click For Audio Sample   Click For Song Lyrics
Click For Audio Sample   Click For Song Lyrics
Click For Audio Sample   Click For Song Lyrics





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