Mittens for Christmas
It's mid-September as I write this, and a warm breeze marks the last days of summer. But the picture on the cover of this CD shows three lads bundled against the cold, clutching a sled and packing snowballs. The music tells me it's Christmas. And I believe it.
Kirkmount, a trio of Nova Scotia musicians, has crafted a beautiful, elegant album for the holidays. Mittens for Christmas is like bringing a small chamber orchestra into your home -- an orchestra touched with the Nova Scotian's love for Celtic music. The band -- Alex Bigney on harp and bones, Samuel Bigney on fiddle, Simeon Bigney on cello and bodhran -- is also a family, and their explanation in the liner notes for this album's title is a sweet, touching holiday tale. The three brothers have an obvious love for this music, a love which stretches back generations according to their biographical notes.
While on the subject of liner notes, Kirkmount has prepared a set which should be an example to all musicians who set foot in the studio! There are personal touches a-plenty, but the band also provides very detailed histories of each tune they perform. Refreshingly complete!
But it's the music that will have you playing this album nonstop when the holidays roll around. There is passion here, and musical precision as well. Playing primarily familiar tunes, the brothers mix in a few lesser-known pieces and a few originals, too. There is a bit too much background noise -- breathing, for instance, and the occasional bump and scrape -- but it's not all that distracting. It adds, in a way, to the illusion of bringing these musicians into your home for a holiday blast.
All in all, it's a gorgeous, uplifting package which should be in everyone's Yuletide collection. Well done, Kirkmount! This is a wonderful, precious gift.
[ by Tom Knapp ]