Bridget Ball &
Christopher Shaw,
Mountain Snow & Mistletoe
(Twining Tree, 1991)

Mountain Snow & Mistletoe showers the listener with a unique "back-home" blend of Christmas melodies. However, like certain blends of coffee, this particular cup of holiday cheer may not appeal to all.

According to the artists, the intention of this recording is to "capture what an evening of yuletide music sounds like right here at home." And that it does, if home is nestled in the mountains of yesteryear.

A duet of "What Child Is This" shines as the brightest star atop the tree of musical spirit and is my personal favourite. Ball and Shaw's harmonies on this tune and "O Come All Ye Faithful" are inspiring. A rendition of Gordon Lightfoot's "Song for a Winter's Night" was folksy and delightful, with Lightfoot's audible imprint. Shaw's vocals on "Ten Dollar Christmas," which tells a heartwarming Christmas story, and Ball's vocals on Karla Bonoff's "Home" stand out as two of more memorable tracks.

"Christmas Children," "The Holly and the Ivy," "Star Carol," "Light a Light," "Here We Come a Wassailing" and "Hauling in the Wood" are reminiscent of Christmas fruitcake -- standard holiday fare certainly to be appreciated by some and disliked by others.

While Ball and Shaw exhibit talent as singers/musicians, their style is somewhat dated. Personally, I lean toward crisper, more modern renditions of the 'ol favourite Christmas tunes.

If you want to stop by the mountain house of an old friend and sing along to Christmas carol with a glass of hot cider in your hand, then this could very well be the Christmas album for you.

[ by Lynne Remick ]

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