Thursday, November 22, 2007

10. Sarah McLachlan: Wintersong
I used to add several new CD’s to my Christmas collection every year, but as I have become more discriminating, the additions have become smaller. In 2006, I only bought two, this beauty being one of them. Sarah McLachlan sings from loves ragged edges. Most of her music, even the more mainstream songs, have a beautiful melancholy to them. In the song “Angel”, off of her “Surfacing” album, she describes this as “glorious sadness” -- and that is exactly what it is. This CD is full of that glorious sadness. This is a CD to play on that day, that you know is coming, when the pressure of the holidays makes you wonder if we’ve lost all sight of the beauty of a simple Christmas. There are none of the fun kid songs on this album -- no Rudolph, no Frosty, no Jingle Bells. The traditional songs are the quieter hymns of Christmas -- O Little Town of Bethlehem, Silent Night, What Child is this?. The other selections are mostly covers of other artists, and they are all better than the originals. There is, no real surprise here, “Happy Xmas (War is Over)” which, like the Jimmy Buffett version is better than the John Lennon original, because, once again, no Yoko. Even better is a version of the Joni Mitchell song “River” -- with a beautiful dobro accompaniment. Best of all the covers though is “Song for a winter’s night” -- originally sung (and written by) Gordon Lightfoot. Sarah, no slouch of a song writer herself, has a pretty little composition of her own called “Wintersong”. But, I’ve saved the best for last -- “In the Bleak Mid-Winter” is not only the best version of this song, it’s one of the most beautiful songs I’ve ever heard. The whole CD is gorgeous. It’s the best addition to my Christmas collection in the last ten years.

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