Rebecca Roubion “Christmas Lights” Review
I have a theory about the timbre of vocalists. In music talk, “timbre” refers to the tone color of someone’s voice — the God-given unique sound texture that they have when they sing or talk. It’s that little characteristic that everybody has in their voice that you learn as you get to know them, and when that person you know calls on the phone, you recognize who it is immediately without hearing their name.
Although every human being has a unique sound wave characteristic to their voice, I think there are different “families” of voices that have general tone colors in common. Although your voice is unique just like your fingerprint, there are probably a few thousand (maybe more) people out there on the earth who have a similar sound as your voice — voice doppelgangers, in a way.
Rebecca Roubion’s silky smooth, haunting, expressive tone color belongs in what I call the “Icelandic Glissando” family of voice colors. I’m not saying she’s from Iceland. It’s a reference to the first voices I heard who had this very unique singing style. They happened to be from Iceland — Emiliana Torrini and Bjork. Although not from Iceland, mainstream singer Ellie Gould and Christian singer Ellie Holcomb would also belong in this family.
The Icelandic Glissando has a silvery blue color to it, almost never a belting kind of Broadway double forte loudness, but a hovering, haunting mist of singing: it’s delicate, nuanced, precise, and as smooth as a figure skater on ice. I add “glissando” to it because these singers sometimes slide between notes (which is called a “glissando” in music theory) — though not in an excessive, annoying way, but with grace and restraint.
So, imagine a singer who belongs in this family — though with a unique style all her own, of course, something in the Americana realm in Rebecca’s case, perhaps — applying that haunting, shimmering tone color to Christmas music.
The song selections lend itself well to her singing style — a gorgeous mix of originals and well known Christmas melodies. They take advantage of her tone color and use a slightly melancholy, dreamy songwriting style to carefully frame Rebecca’s voice, like “Christmas Lights” and “Joy to the World” — both beautifully composed masterpieces of mood. The latter might be one of the best songs I’ve heard this year — what a fascinating, paradoxical take on “Joy to the World.” I could put that track on repeat.
Other songs like “Go Tell It On The Mountain” and “Yahweh” have a more upbeat, but still reflective feel, and little flashes and shadows of Americana, perhaps even tiny hints of a bluegrass ballad, appear here and there like sparkles in the snow.
The following is Rebecca’s press release for this exquisite Christmas album:
Christmas Lights is a project that began years ago when Rebecca experimented by recording demos of Christmas music with gospel singers. Here we are six years later and Rebecca is ready to share her interpretation of Christmas classics including “Silent Night,” “Joy To The World,” and “What Child Is This,” alongside her own fresh and original compositions “Stay The Holiday,” “A Lot To Give,” and “Christmas Lights.”
When asked about recording these Christmas classics, Rebecca explained that, “There was definitely magic in the studio. Rediscovering these familiar classics was a journey for me. I wanted to revive them while staying true to the writer’s interpretation.”
Rebecca’s goal when recording Christmas Lights was to give the album a very natural feel. While tracking cello on “Silent Night,” the faint roar of rolling thunder can be heard in the background, seemingly striking at the perfect time within the recording. Rebecca’s favorite aspect of recording is that art cannot always be planned, it simply needs to come together naturally.
Born in New Orleans and raised in Mobile, AL, Rebecca went on to study public relations at Louisiana State University, and has since been building her brand in Nashville. In the fall of 2012, she executed a crowdsourcing campaign resulting in the releases of two EPs, Fields (2012) and Forests (2013). Her single “Break”, was featured on the Nashville Indie Spotlight album. The following single release, “What Love Looks Like,” was featured in last season’s finale of Pretty Little Liars.