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4.8 out of 5 stars36
4.8 out of 5 stars
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This is a beautiful album, a treasure for Christmases to come. I saw Sarah in Glasgow on her 2004 'Afterglow' tour - one of the best performances I've ever seen. The overall sound quality was exceptional, her voice so wonderful, one of my abiding memories being the soaring harmonies with her band and backing singer (Kathryn Rose, I think). Out of the traditional songs on this album, I was particularly taken by her versions of 'Silent Night' and the beautiful 'In the Bleak Midwinter'. John and Yoko's great song 'Happy Xmas (War Is Over)' is very similar to the original in essence, but with the distinctive McLachlan touch. The oft-recorded 'What Child Is This (Greensleeves)' is lovely here, and Joni Mitchell's melancholy 'River' is as enchanting as k d lang's wonderful take on the same song. Sarah's wistful 'Wintersong', the only original song on the album, is simply heartbreaking, and compares with her very best work (in my view, anyway). Elsewhere we have the evergreen 'I'll Be Home For Christmas', recorded by The Platters in the '60s, and fans of the cult TV series 'Due South' may recognise Sarah's charming reading of Gordon Lightfoot's 'Song For A Winter's Night'. The overall mood is reflective, wistful, at times deeply sad even, but nevertheless a lovely album to treasure.
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on 18 October 2006
Its not often that you get a christmas album where every song is brilliant. However with this offering from Sarah McLachlan I was gobsmacked. There is no trace of cheese which is so rare for a chrismas CD. From the eastern-tinged First Noel/Mary Mary to the spine-tingling Wintersong, the stunning tear-inducing River, to the sublime version of I'll be Home for Christmas. I could mention each track and use the words "brilliant", "sublime", "beautiful" and "stunning" for each one.

Christmas albums are so often seen as career-low's but this is quite the opposite. OK, so its not a party album, you can't jump up and down and dance to it, but you can close your eyes and drift away. I guarantee this CD will bring a tear or two to your eyes.
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on 24 October 2006
Christmas is supposed to be a special time of year and we all want the right soundtrack for that day that comes once a year and this year Sarah McLachlan fans are blessed with with a wonderful new album for that soundtrack! From covers of modern favourites such as John Lennon's "Happy Xmas" & Joni Micthell's "River" to interpretations of traditional songs including Silent Night and O Little Town Of Bethlehem, and a beautiful self penned song in the form of the title track, this album is sure to bring delight to both Sarah fans and people wanting chill out time this and every Christmas from now on!
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This is my first Sarah McLachlan album but it's most unlikely to be my last. Sarah has selected some familiar classics, singing them straight with one exception, together with some less familiar songs and one self-penned song, that being the title track.

The set opens with a cover of John Lennon's classic song, Happy Xmas war is over. There was a time when I didn't come across covers of this song but it is definitely on
its way to becoming a Christmas standard, judging by the frequency with which I now come across covers. Maybe that's a reflection of the troubled world in which we live, where war seems never-ending. Actually, history shows that it was ever thus, but the modern media mean that we are more aware of faraway wars than our ancestors were in centuries past.

Another song that is fast becoming a Christmas standard after a slow start is Joni Mitchell's River. More established standards to be found here are I'll be home for Christmas, O little town of Bethlehem, Silent night and Have yourself a merry little Christmas, all of them with familiar arrangements. Sarah also sings a superb version of In the bleak midwinter, one of my favorite carols but less frequently found on Christmas albums than the other established standards. The medley of First Noel and Mary Mary is an unexpected surprise, as Sarah has arranged it in her own way, which is noticeably different from the traditional arrangement of these songs.

The title track is a superb ballad. Sarah also revives Song for a winter's night (a Gordon Lightfoot song) and Christmas time is here (which also appears on Skaggs family Christmas, though I've heard it elsewhere).

This mellow Christmas album is definitely not party music, but you can enjoy it in the quieter moments around Christmas.
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on 24 November 2007
Echoes of falling snow... It's a remarkable, if not implausible, notion. As is the notion that someone could recapture the traditional Christmas spirit for a new generation as Bing Crosby did for my parents' and grandparents'...

"River" is the first standout track you will embrace. The piano & guitar dance like snowflakes in a gentle wind around Sarah's voice. Forget the comparisons to Joni Mitchell - with all due respect - but I never knew the original and it won't matter to you either. It'll cling to you for warmth & meaning nonetheless. As will "Wintersong" - an original Sarah song. For anyone who's had to face Christmas without your loved one, it's particularly poignant - completely forgiving and loving in its nature. Completely fitting for Christmas. For our generation.

What makes this CD exceptional is the odd balance is strikes in its composition and tone. For those who've ever had to spend the holidays away from family, "I'll Be Home For Christmas" will both evoke and sate those inherent emotions. "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas" finally gets the treatment its title deserves with its soft keyboard strokes that bounce merrily like jingle bells on mittens. Yet on "Christmas Time is Here", Sarah's melancholy voice and Diane Krall's drunken piano lullaby us with a bitter-sweetness that seems to reflect a fading optimism in the true meaning of Christmas in this post-9/11 world. Achingly so.

But of all this - if there's one enduring quality you can take away from this collection - it's the emotion that Sarah's voice brings to the music. It sets the tone throughout. Beautifully.

For true Sarah fans, "The First Noel/Mary Mary", "Songs For A Winter's Night", and "In The Bleak Mid-Winter" leave only her own unique footprints in the snow.

Maybe echoes of falling snow isn't such an implausible notion after all...
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on 19 February 2009
I am not a great fan of Christmas or the usual songs that get played around the season, but this is something else. Wintersong is a mix of contemporary and traditional songs arranged in Sarah's own style making them atmospheric, beautiful, moving and uplifting, which is relatively unheard of on most Christmas releases which are largely commercial and nothing more. Her version of 'What Child Is This?' is alone worth buying the album for. Not a dud track among them and def an album that can even make the most cynical of people like myself feel sentimental.
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on 15 March 2007
A winter album. Christmas theme. Mmm, I understand the hesitation and trepidation from even her most ardent fans. But this is Sarah and anything Sarah sings has to be bought. What can I say? This is just beautiful. Every track is gorgeous and the reworkings of traditional carols and some old favourites like Happy Xmas (War is Over) and River are just terrific. Can wait for Springsong, Summersong and Autumnsong. And the Mid-Seasonsongs.
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on 29 December 2006
I am a HUGE fun who gets her single CDs from individual sellers in USA/Canada paying a fortune. I used to listen to "Surfacing" absolutely everyday for 2 years.

As some people already mentioned below, I was a little let down when I first listened to "Wintersong" as a whole CD. It just lacks [the edge] she normally throws into her tunes. But... no one can deny my herat-felt excitement every time I hear 'So this is Christmas..' when I put this CD on!

I keep playing this CD everyday. And I feel that "Wintersong" (no 4 song in this CD)is one of the best winter songs ever sung (together with "Snow" by Loreena McKennitt).

The glorious Winter starts right here.
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on 7 December 2007
When i first heard of this album, i was desperate to get my hands on it. I own everything Sarah has produced, and was eager to hear her reditions of these Christmas songs.
I have to say, the opening song sent chills down my spine. Memories of seeing her play live came to me, it was like having my own private concert in my living room.
Her voice is simply amazing, and im sure these Christams songs will have a place on your ipod, or in your CD player long after Christmas has passed.
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on 31 December 2012
Being a fan of Sarah, I already knew the quality of her voice but was still very pleasantly surprised by this album and wonder why I didn't purchase it sooner...Loved most of the tracks but especially Sarahs rendition of River which is probably the best version I have heard and her version of War Is Over (if you want it)....I reckon if Lennon was still around he would be impressed..The album isn't like you might expect a Christmas album to be but is a joy to listen to and I actually am leaving it out after Christmas as a few of the songs can be listened to anytime....Highly recommend this album if you love Christmas but also if you appreciate good music and want to avoid the twee, jingly stuff that we all too often get bombarded with at this time of year....10 out of 10..:o)
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