Wintersong

Wintersong

3.8 25
by Sarah McLachlan
     
 

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Sarah McLachlan's voice -- not to mention the elegance with which she coaxes notes from a keyboard -- has a timeless quality that's ideally suited for performing traditional material, and there's nothing more traditional than a good old-fashioned set of holiday tunes. Yet while Wintersong is certainly steeped in tradition, there's enough innovation in its

Overview

Sarah McLachlan's voice -- not to mention the elegance with which she coaxes notes from a keyboard -- has a timeless quality that's ideally suited for performing traditional material, and there's nothing more traditional than a good old-fashioned set of holiday tunes. Yet while Wintersong is certainly steeped in tradition, there's enough innovation in its grooves to signal that McLachlan is still a restless artistic spirit. She manages to capture both the warmth and the melancholy that imbue the memories of holidays past in nostalgic readings of such classic carols as "The First Noel" and "What Child Is This?" At the same time, she puts her own imaginative sense of sonic space into play on intriguingly arranged versions of favorites like "O Little Town of Bethlehem," which is colored here by delicate banjo lines and eerily distorted violins. McLachlan is a bit more faithful to the original versions of the passel of modern holiday tunes, an approach that works beautifully on a hypnotic reading of Joni Mitchell's "River" but a little less well on an overly reverent version of John Lennon's "Happy Xmas (War Is Over)." McLachlan's originals are among Wintersong's most compelling tracks, particularly the poignantly spare, piano-led title track, on which she addresses the death of her mother, who passed away just before Christmas four years ago. That mistiness informs McLachlan's portrayal of the season; by encompassing both sunny and cloudy moments, she offers a deep and complete reflection on the year's final weeks.

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Marisa Brown
Because no artist's career is truly complete without a holiday album, Sarah McLachlan took yet another step toward establishing her place in sentimental adult contemporary radio history with Wintersong. For the most part, the singer chooses the darker, more melancholic, and "wintry" pieces to cover (there's no "Joy to the World" or "Angels We Have Heard on High," for example), focusing as much on the Christmas season and the general feel of the holiday as on its religious connotations. She brings together the folk spiritual "Mary Mary" -- also called "Virgin Mary" when covered by Joan Baez on her 1966 Noël or "Mary What You Gonna Call That Pretty Little Baby" when a black gospel song -- and the traditional "The First Noel," showing off not only her own impressive range but her ability to adapt to different vocal styles while still remaining wholly herself. Her version of Gordon Lightfoot's "Song for a Winter's Night," which was originally released on the 1994 Miracle on 34th Street soundtrack (and then on McLachlan's Rarities, B-Sides & Other Stuff), is pretty and sweet, using as acoustic guitar as well as layers and layers of vocal harmonies to create a sense of space and warmth, and her cover of Joni Mitchell's "River" is lovely, too, using a guitar and arpeggiated synths to push the song sadly along. The synths, in fact, are used frequently on Wintersong, sometimes in their string form on "O Little Town of Bethlehem" or "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas," which works nicely, but more often as slightly new agey background effects that get a little tedious, especially considering the fact McLachlan has always been able to carry herself on more organic instrumentation, and sound good doing it, too. She does manage to just stick to only the sad, reflective piano chords on which she has earned her living -- nice in their simplicity -- on the title track, the one original song on the album, which sounds a lot, both thematically and musically, like "River," using Christmas as a way to contemplate a lover ("And this is how I see you/In the snow on Christmas morning..../Oh I miss you now, my love, merry Christmas," she sings). McLachlan's voice sounds great, and her interpretations stick pretty close to the originals while still expressing her own artistic individuality (with the exception of "What Child Is This [Greensleeves]," in which she goes too far, taking liberties with the melody and changing the song too much); but in making everything so soft and ethereal, instead of increasing their poignancy (which is certainly a goal of hers), she kills some of the songs' immediacy and power, unfortunately rendering Wintersong a little lifeless, albeit soothing, at the end.
Entertainment Weekly - Chris Willman
You couldn't hope for a more gorgeously heartsick holiday. (B+)

Product Details

Release Date:
10/17/2006
Label:
Arista
UPC:
0828768150429
catalogNumber:
81504

Tracks

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Sarah McLachlan   Primary Artist,Dobro,Piano,Harp,Vocals
Bill Dillon   Acoustic Guitar,Bass,Mandolin,Electric Guitar
Bob Doidge   sleigh bells
Darryl Johnson   Bass
Dave Kershaw   Keyboards
Vince Mai   Trumpet,Flugelhorn
Pierre Marchand   Keyboards,Synthesizer Bass
Dave Sinclair   Guitar
Diana Krall   Piano
Jim Creeggan   Double Bass
Brian Minato   Bass
Ashwin Sood   Percussion,Drums
Luke Doucet   Guitar
Colin Cripps   Dobro,Guitar
Sarah McLachlan Music Outreach Children's Choir and Youth Choir   Choir, Chorus,Track Performer,Children's Chorus

Technical Credits

Gordon Lightfoot   Composer
John Lennon   Composer
Joni Mitchell   Composer
Vince Guaraldi   Composer
Jeremy Lubbock   String Arrangements
Sarah McLachlan   Arranger,Composer
Yoko Ono   Composer
Buck Ram   Composer
Mark Howard   Bass Engineer
Bob Doidge   Guitar Engineer
Kim Gannon   Composer
Walter Kent   Composer
John Kurlander   Engineer
Pierre Marchand   Programming,Producer,Engineer,Audio Production
Hugh Martin   Composer
Charles Paakkari   Engineer
John Rummen   Graphic Design
Ralph Blane   Composer
Lee Mendelson   Composer
Christopher Marc Potter   Engineer
Traditional   Composer

Customer Reviews

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Wintersong 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 25 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This amazingly beautiful Christmas album will sooth your soul and lift your spirit. My wife and I were so moved by Sarah’s rendition of “Happy Christmas” (And So This Is Christmas) that we danced, or swayed together around the room in front of our tree. As we turned about, alternately seeing the tree and each other’s faces we whispered to each other about the tree and the two children we made who are now old enough to help decorate it. The mystery of the Christmas is a synthesis of colors, sounds and scents, all raised to a higher plane by the ethereal voice and arrangements Sarah McLaughlin has chosen for this LP. Fans of Gordon Lightfoot, who chose never to make his own Christmas album, will appreciate the amazing rearrangement of “Song For A Winter’s Night”. It is at once more uplifting, more beautiful and evocative than the original. As a lifelong Lightfoot fan that means something special. Listening to “What Child Is This” you will believe that it is an original song, so original and delightful is the performance. Wintersong, more popularly known as “Silent Night” is peaceful, as it should be. Sarah sings it softly with a lullaby quality to sooth your soul. If your heart is filled with mystery and love at Christmas and you would like that reflected in music to fill your home, this album will become one of your favorites.
Guest More than 1 year ago
What could be better than Christmas Music and Sarah Maclachlan?! She has been my favorite artist for many years and I am more excited than words can say for this album!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I just purchased this album and it is excellent. I especially enjoyed Happy Xmas (War is Over, River and the new version of What Child is This. Sarah McLachlan's interpretations of Christmas classics are very moving. This album really got me into the holiday spirit so much so that I played it twice in a row.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The only song I really think stands out on this CD is "River"...the others are pretty boring renditions. By the time I get to track 4 or 5, I'm done listening. Nothing outstanding here.
Guest More than 1 year ago
For those of us who have been loyal fans (nearly 10 years) Sarah hasn't made a misstep in her musical career. Wintersong is no exception. Billboard Magazine proclaimed years ago (Marvelous..she has made a record unlike any you will hear..Brilliant!) Take the time and listen to each of these songs..they are lush, classy and amazing!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Sorry, Jeff (music lover), but Carly Simon already did "Happy Xmas" (2002) and it is the far superior version. It has amazing emotion and depth.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Carly Simon did "Happy Xmas (War Is Over)" on her Christmas CD several years ago. It's the definitive recording--after Lennon's, of course.
tmuet More than 1 year ago
Sarah did not disappoint on this album. She takes old standards and mixes in her own stylings to make them new again. Her voice is hauntingly beautiful and I was so glad I purchased this Cd.
Guest More than 1 year ago
There's nothing that makes this different from any of a thousand other Christmas albums. The vocals aren't inspired and "River" is the only track that seems to carry the normal feel of Sarah's work. As a holiday album, it's okay. If you are a Sarah McLachlan fan you will probably find it disappointing.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I could not be a bigger fan of Sarah Mclachlan. Saw her last at the Greek Theater in LA. Sorry to say her Christmas collection "Wintersong" is little more that a money job probably to make the Record Company happy. Poor selection of songs with bad (yes bad)arrangements. Nothing original and certainly not much of a vocal challenge for her. The only joy this album will bring is in the form of a check to Ms. Mclachlan, unless word of mouth kindly kills it first.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I really enjoy this singers music but honestly, this cd really didn't have the spirit that it should have for the season. The arrangements were very poor and didn't seem to have any depth to them. I agree with the previous reviewer that this cd was not well thought out and perhaps was not really wanted.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I really thought the harmony and the relaxing tunes were very good! I say Well Done! My favorite song was 9 Song For A Winter's Night. Acutally the only one I really didn't care for was Happy X-mas (the war is over..) but the rest are awsome!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Couldn't be happier about this. Great song choices, obviously a great artist with one of the best vocal instruments in popular music. From the samples it really sounds like Sarah has the right inflections for each of the songs - dare I say even doing a lovely job with Joni's vocal acrobatics within River. Christmastime is here with Krall on keys - superb choice. A big band-era styling for "I'll Be Home..." And thank you Sarah for bringing out "War is Over" at the most poignant time possible.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Wow....totally beautiful. Her version of several traditional songs was totally unexpected and gorgeous. I simply can not stop playing this CD! What a voice....like Joni Mitchell all over again!! Thank you Sarah!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Sarah stays true to her fans with this album bringing forth tenderness, mystery, and brilliance with her voice. This is not a dance Christmas album filled with hip hop and fast guitars, but an album that lets one relax, unwind, and reflect upon the chaos we've put on the Christmas season. Enjoy!
Wild_Iris More than 1 year ago
Anyone will enjoy whether a McLachlan fan or not. Her renditions of Christmas classics are the perfect blend of classic and updated in her style. The pieces unique to her, show off the depth of her voice and soul.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I am fan of Sarah for many years. This album is a desillusionement. She adhere to the Christmas facility that helps a CD to sell like hell but that doesn't do nothing for a carreer. She is becoming the Carole King of the last remake.
Guest More than 1 year ago
after all the craziness preparing for the Holiday put this soothing quiet cd on and just listen to Sarah sing. I highly recommend this and any cd from Sarah!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I couldnt have asked for a better cd this year. Movies were bad this year and with the newS being so depressing i bought this cd. (The voice of an angel) i will always call her. the christmas cd was wandurful. everyone mentions other tracks but by far the best one is track 1. i love it and play it lots. Buy it u wont regret.
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