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4.8 out of 5 stars
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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VINE VOICEon 23 November 2006
Having craved a new album by the divine Sarah for an age, the news of this release left me initially thrilled but then suspicious.

A Christmas album? Covers of well-worn-to-the-point-of-threadbare seasonal classics?

Well, my suspicions are not totally relieved. That heart-melting voice is as sublime as ever, but it's hard to avoid the fear that the suits have got together, looked at the career plan and decided now's the time for the less than prolific McLachlan to take a stab at the Yuletide market with some safe cover versions. Her new song's rather lovely but that delicious voice doesn't bring much new to songs we've heard a hundred times before.
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on 10 November 2013
There are mostly traditionally heard songs of Christmas on this album which are well recognisable yet sung with a modern appeal. What Child is This has a familiar tune with Christmas lyrics and is beautiful with its gentle accompaniment. River is a contrast to the traditional songs and has a country sound to it.
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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 10 December 2012
This is one of my most favourite Christmas Albums, it's absolutely stunning. It has a great collection of songs and carols, yet even the ones you think you know have such new, hauntingly beautiful arrangements that they seems like completely new songs. They Sarah's voice completely. There isn't one naff track on the whole album. This CD gets played and played every year. A refreshing change from much of the stuff out there.
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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 10 November 2006
Wow ! an amazing timeless christmas c.d , Sarah Mclachlan voice is simply stunning, this is truly the best christmas c.d I have brought in ages! i can't recommend it highly enough !, go buy it now, turn of the lights sit back and enjoy ! Merry Christmas Sarah and thankyou !
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