Dianña’s “Missing You Underneath the Mistletoe”
You can be fond of, even love, the Christmas holiday while not liking Christmas music.
I’m living proof of the assertion. Holiday-themed music invariably hits me as trite, overproduced, and sounds like a blatant money grab written, recorded, and released to fleece the sentimental of their cash. People play along with that and have since time immemorial.
Dianña’s “Missing You Underneath the Mistletoe”, however”, is different. I hear someone who respects tradition without ever being beholden. When I listen to this single, I hear someone who can claim a genuine love for the Yuletide season; moreover, she has the necessary wherewithal to convey that affection. It isn’t just a pose. Such honesty, in both writing and performance, redeems in full any predilection I may have to dismiss her material.
I appreciate how she mixes the good with the “bad”. We aren’t thrust into the land of utter loneliness, the holidays surround the singer with reasons to be happy and she is, but there’s a missing piece for her that compromises the day just enough to prompt such a song. It’s the core of the performance. She communicates both sides of the coin with equal, yet different, intensity and it helps diversify our listening experience.
I defy anyone to tell me it’s an one-note performance.
The piano work definitely expands its dimensions. This is especially true during the short instrumental break near the song’s midway point. Adding tasteful percussion deep into the song’s first half imbues the single with a welcome impetus that gets it moving forward in ways the piano cannot.
Dianña is the prime mover, however. She glides through the song’s verses with calm assurance that pulls us into the track’s emotional world. It’s a land that I am happy to inhabit. Her voice has a soothing tone that puts us side by side with the singer, closing the customary distance between performer and audience, without ever risking embarrassing intimacy.
She shapes and tailors her voice to gain maximum benefit from duetting with the aforementioned piano. This doesn’t mean she mimics the rise and fall of every piano line. Instead, she’s attuned to the instrument and fits her voice around the instrument’s contributions. The converse is true as well. Rarely do I have the pleasure of hearing such an unified effort.
Rarely do you hear someone who has clearly invested so much of herself in what, for other performers, might be a throwaway number. This is clearly not the case for Dianña. She treats “Missing You Underneath the Mistletoe” as if it is taken from her personal experience rather than an academic exercise designed to show off her vocal chops.
She has plenty of the latter. It isn’t the reason, however, she’s here. She wants to make an enduring contribution to a special kind of music with a long and storied history. She’s also likely aware that it’s a kind of song plagued with countless examples of hack work. There’s no danger of that with her, however, as Dianña’s “Missing You Underneath the Mistletoe” glows with deep and abiding humanity.