Tingstad & Rumbel,
Comfort & Joy
(Cheshire, 2004)

Guitarist Eric Tingstad and woodwind player Nancy Rumble are rapidly becoming the towering heads of Christmas music. Comfort & Joy, their third holiday release, follows The Gift and Star of Wonder. If you're thinking this is perhaps too much of a good thing, I'm going to have to disagree with you.

The duo is among the pioneers of new age music -- Rumble developed her chops playing in the Paul Winter Consort back in the 1980s, so she knows the music can be melodic and tasteful but still display tension, bite and substance. The songs on this CD retain new-age overtones, but they never descend into the type of treacle that so often characterizes this genre. Listening to a lot of new age music can be like drinking too much oversweetened lemonade, but this album never veers into that sort of softness. It is sweet but tough. The pair shows you the beauty in songs that you have long thought overfamiliar and worn out. Their skill and love of the genre make you listen to the tunes anew, offering fresh rewards.

William Blake once wrote about seeing the world in a grain of sand. Tingstad and Rumble show you how to perceive anew the holiday tunes you've always taken for granted, so that you see a fresh beauty.

by Michael Scott Cain
15 September 2007

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