Top positive review
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"Bringing us a gift of old / wrapped in ribbons of gold"
on 6 December 2009
MIDWINTER GRACES is the first seasonal album by Amos. The standard edition consists of 12 songs; traditional and some new ones penned by Amos herself, but even the traditional ones have been arranged by her and maybe tweaked here and there in order to give them her own personal touch. What has resulted is one of the most successful albums she has created since THE BEEKEEPER, in my opinion. This is a seasonal album which you could easily fall into listening to at any time of the year.
What I think Tori has managed to do which makes this selection so successful, is to mix the traditional Christmas references (the Baby Jesus, etc.) with a flavour of the pagan, so going back to the roots of our religion and beginnings.
Also, she has done an amazing job at the arrangements of the songs. The music is just fantastic. This sounds, to me, just as Tori should - with piano, orchestra and bells. It is the sort of sound which made me fall in love with her music all those years ago.
So, now onto some of my favourites:-
"Snow Angel" - an original song for this album. This is simply beautiful. As soon as the intro began I knew I would love it. It is simply about an angel who brings the snow each midwinter, but it is gorgeous.
"A Silent Night with You" - another original song. As you may have guessed from the title, it takes the idea of a silent night, but in Tori's hands it becomes a song about remembering a love affair at Christmas.
"Holly, Ivy and Rose" - this song has the voice of Tori's little girl, Natashya. Although it sounds very corny hearing that, do not worry, it does work having her.
"Winter's Carol" - this is another original. It is taken from "The Light Princess", which I think is a play based on George Macdonald's fairytale in which Tori has assisted. This is perhaps one of the strongest songs. The lyrics are fantastic; this is where the pagan flavour seems strongest. But the music is also brilliant. There are different tempos, and Tori makes use of her voice to the full in this one. Utterly brilliant.
"Our New Year" - the end song, another original. Slightly different in tone, as this one is about the melancholy which can also accompany the time of year; hoping that the New Year will bring you the one that you are longing for.
This is simply a seasonal album like no other you have heard before. Instead of cheesy songs which may make you sing along, but also make you cringe slightly, this album brings an element of sophistication to the genre.
Already, I have been playing this album almost constantly since I recieved it. And I'm sure I will be still be playing it as Christmas gets nearer.