Top positive review
28 people found this helpful
Outstanding album features beautiful harmonies
on 22 August 2003
I suppose the Roches (Maggie, Suzzy and Terre) count as folk-rock singers, though really they defy musical classification. As I write this, I am not familiar with any of their other music, but this album clearly indicates that I am missing out on a lot.
Their lovely, clear, soprano voices combine to make brilliant harmonies to such great effect that they don’t actually need any musical backing. I would have been quite happy if they had recorded the whole album a Capella, but they wisely decided to mix things up by using a variety of instruments on some of the tracks.
Distinctive arrangements of old standards are another feature of this album – not everywhere, but on selected tracks. So the first time you play this you will never know quite what to expect but most of the arrangements are not too far removed from the standard.
Another aspect of this album that I particularly like is the choice of songs. Most of the really obvious ones have been omitted, although their harmonies are so magical that I’d happily listen to any Christmas song they choose to record.
The less obvious songs to be found here include Good King Wenceslas (the best version I’ve yet heard of this under-recorded song) and The holly and the ivy, both very popular in Britain but apparently less so in America. Also included are such wonderful songs as Angels we have heard on high, For unto us a child is born, Here we come a carolling and the opening track, Break forth o bounteous heavenly light. Two originals, Christmas passing through and Star of wonder, are also excellent.
Of the really obvious songs, their version of Away in a manger is truly inspired – it is one of the songs they sing without backing. I don’t know why, but that song often seems to bring out the best in America’s finest singers.
I agree to some extent with what others say about their slightly silly version of Frosty the snowman – but hey, it’s a Christmas album – loosen up. There are also a few other tracks where the song arrangements will upset some people.
This is the kind of Christmas album you either love or hate, but I suspect that most of you will love it, providing you enjoy great harmony singing and don’t need a driving rhythm section. On this album, the sisters’ voices are what make this album distinctive.