Tori Amos,
Midwinter Graces
(Universal Republic, 2009)

Every year, I have to find a few Christmas CDs to add to my collection. Sadly, many artists have discovered the holiday venue as a way to produce revenue without actually adding anything more than cover songs to the body of holiday music already available. When I'm buying, I don't want to hear the traditionals redone. That's been done -- and probably better long ago.

I was more than excited to see Tori Amos offered a holiday CD this year because I knew she'd go off the beaten path. I was not disappointed at all. This is not your usual holiday CD. Yes, we do have "Silent Night" and "Coventry Carol," but the balance of the 14 songs are new or songs you don't often hear. The CD also comes with a bonus DVD, which I didn't get and may regret if I ever saw it.

"Pink & Glitter" is probably my favorite of the bunch and the song I think is going to get the most play out of this CD. It's definitely on the commercial side of the holiday, but it's good girlish fun as well.

"Jeanette Isabella" is just lovely, including some of Amos's most ringing instrumentation. You can almost see a group of carolers bearing torches out on a cold winter's night as you listen to this song.

"Harps of Gold" is the most uptempo of the offerings, but it has a message of putting on a bright face during the holidays, which is sometimes an accomplishment. "Snow Angels" is also lovely; it's one of the several songs that got repeated while I played the CD the first time around.

I am very impressed with this effort, the originality and grace of the songs. This is a hard CD to take out of your player. You will want to listen again and again if you are into holiday music. I think this music will be a lovely addition to most holiday collections -- and it's not the same old thing.

review by
Becky Kyle

12 December 2009

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