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on 17 November 2009
Previously, the only Tori Amos I had heard was 'American Doll Posse' and 'The Beekeeper'. Perfectly presentable albums, but not really that special. On top of that, I'm not a big fan of 'carols' and the whole Crimbo thing. But after reading the reviews, I thought I'd try it. Turns out: smart move.

This is simply a beautiful collection. Tori Amos manages to stamp her own style, her own meaning on what mainly start out as carols.

'What Child, Nowell' is close to it's namesake, but other tracks take more liberties. The stunning, eastern feel to 'Star of Wonder' reminds you of Middle Eastern origins, before lifting to a major chord for the traditional chorus, which lifts your feelings with it. Some beautiful, simple electric piano, backing the eastern strings.

'A Silent Night With You' - well, the title gives a pretty big clue. Lush strings and a tubular bell back a very pretty love song. Yes, it's almost a Bing Crosby season.

'Harps of Gold' - with a chorus of 'In Excelis Deo', initially sounds remarkably like 'Solsbury Hill', with similar uplifting chords, before breaking into a warm and joyful chorus.

Ah, The Wolf has pretty much done a track by track review, making mine redundant. But what I love about this album is how, by taking the basic feel, the basic premise of songs we all know and have known since childhood, Tori Amos has managed to imbue them with a twist, different meanings that make you stop, and think.

The arrangements are, by and large, wonderful. The horns on Pink and Glitter are gorgeous, crystal clear (arranged and conducted by John Philip Shenale). The brass over the top, then the saxs slipping in under, audio velvet, glitter ball turning on the ceiling, slow and mocha moochy.

The lush strings on other tracks; just about impeccable, the piano clear, bell-like and beautifully expressive. And, over all that, Tori Amos' distinctive and evocative vocals - there is a touching fragility and a phrasing that is quite unique - pure Tori Amos.

To quote The Wolf - 'essential'. :-)
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on 11 December 2009
If you are a Tori Amos fan you will love this CD, I can wholeheartedly recommend you to purchase it. However, the problems I have had trying to obtain this CD from Amazon has left me feeling so angry that, despite several years of satisfactory purchases and dealings with Amazon, I am going to close my account as soon as I am assured that the problem has been resolved. My advice: buy the CD, but buy it elsewhere. Trying to resolve this matter has left me £15.00 out of pocket, plus the cost of purchasing the CD from Tescos. In conclusion: Amos 5.0, Amazon 0.0
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on 1 August 2011
When I first read that Tori Amos has decided to release a holiday album of traditional songs, I hoped that it would be quite intriguing and dark - and guess what, it is. Tori has a very eerie, coldy seductive feel to her voice which lends itself well to the way she has chosen to interpret the songs on "Midwinter Graces". She has also written five new tracks which fit perfectly in the mix. This album can compare to her earlier releases "Little Earthquakes", "Under The Pink" and "Boys For Pele" as it has that same distinctive baroque appeal.

Most of the traditional songs are interpreted very well. "What Child, Wonder" starts the album of reasonably well and is followed by "Star Of Wonder" which is performed as a folky pop song with interesting musical arrangements. "Candle: Coventry Carol" is one my favorites on this release as it is very dark and sombre, which is Tori at her best. "Holly, Ivy And Rose" and "Harps Of Gold" are quite catchy, the latter being turned into an effective rock tinged pop song. "Jeanette, Isabella" and "Emmanuel" are quite pleasant, but are not arranged in an interesting enough way for me.

In general, the better tracks are the ones written by Tori herself. "A Silent Night With You" is a simple yet captivating ballad with piano. "Snow Angel" is another well composed piano and string led ballad which would have fitted perfectly well on "Under The Pink", her second album. "Pink And Glitter" is a 1930's sounding jazz song. I have never heard Tori sing jazz, but it suits her very well. "Winter's Carol" is the highlight here and is a such a beautifully written ballad with many nuances to the song, as if Tori is portraying the unpredictable and instantly changeable weather we can sometimes have during the long winters. "Our New Year" ends the album in style, with a lovely intense string section which intensifies the emotion of the song.

This is by far the best holiday album I have ever heard. It would probably have been even better if Tori had chosen to include 12 of her own creations, but it is still a great return to her original sound.
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on 22 December 2009
I'm not sure why the review above states that Tori hasn't done anything good since Scarlet's Walk, when Abnormally Attracted to Sin is one of her finest albums. Her phrasing and melodies are absolutely amazing. The Beekeeper and American Doll Posse are also up to her truly great standard in my opinion. Midwinter Graces is something different - an 'aside' for Tori (as all Christmas albums are), but its gentle and melodic songs are still enjoyable enough, and Amos' take on the Christmas theme is characteristically unusual and pleasurable for the ear.
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on 19 November 2009
Frankly a mesmerising, wonderous celebration of love, life, light and sprit. Gorgeous, Comforting, Warming.
Essential Listening.
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on 23 November 2009
The only Christmas Album you'll ever need to own. Tori has done it again!
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on 20 June 2014
As a longtime Tori Amos fan who understands her twist and turn choices of making albums in the 2000s I have to admit I was a bit suspicious of this. Seasonal records more often than not are a bit cheesy but she made this completely her own and being Tori, of course there had to be a certain conceptual approach to this record. The music is beautiful and lush, emotional, intimate, melancholic and riveting. She re-arranged traditional themes so that they're more faithful to their historical origins and her original songs blend perfectly with them. Apart from the cheesy front and back cover artwork (too much Photoshop for my taste) the music is brilliant!
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VINE VOICETOP 500 REVIEWERon 11 November 2009
Now here's a curious confection to be sure!
Carol-along-a-Tori. I had to stretch my mind
into an unfamiliar shape to even begin to meet
her half-way on this one. It is a strange affair.

Strangely beautiful in fact.

I've always considered Ms Amos to be more a
sinner than a saint (the very nicest kind of
sinner I hasten to add!).
Her Holy Night is, therefore, a revelation.

'Midwinter Graces' is about as far away from
the usual obligatory celebrity Christmas album
as it is possible to be. Her heart is clearly in it.

Even some of the most familiar songs are given
reworkings so startlingly original that we hear
them as though for the first time.

'Candle : Coventry Carol' with its warm piano
and brass arrangement is jarringly beautiful.

My own favorite seasonal melody, 'Emmanuel', is
given a stately and mesmerising performance.
The subtle use of strings, bells and percussion
is magical.

The self-penned 'Our New Year' brings a welcome
touch of doubt and darkness to the project.

'Snow Angel' is simply and starkly delightful.

Ms Amos really has created something quite
extraordinary here for believers and unbelievers alike.

This is as close a realisation of something
approximating the notion of "Christmas Spirit"
that we will ever again be likely to encounter.

Essential.
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on 22 November 2009
A fab addition to the music Tori has released throughout her career. Not the typical Christmas album, but would you expect anything less from Tori!?

Some classics revisited and done in Tori's unmistakeable style and then some self penned festive tunes. Unique Tori style again and from me continues on the great music Tori is in the habit of releasing. Like she says on the bonus DVD she had to put her twist on it to make this album worth doing, and it works.
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on 15 December 2009
An interesting, different point of view on Christmas carols' tradition. The interview explains clearly the concept idea of the album, tracing back to the "pagan" origin of most of the chants.
An unusual selection of pieces, amazing arrangements, and beautiful new songs by Tori as "Pink and glitter", a real homage to the big bands' swing! Really grace...ful!
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