Regular readers know I’ve been ranting for years about the need for fresh interpretations of our most beloved Christmas Carols; some of the radio stations around here have been looping Christmas music since before Thanksgiving and it’s the same stuff, every year: Mariah Carey bouncing, Tammy Wynette keening, Andy Williams howling and bombast from all the new, young singers. They’re all talented, but really? Is that loop all of the worthy Christmas music out there?
With a folk and bluegrass-flavored sound reminiscent of “Down from the Mountain,” the “O Brother, Where Art Thou” concert, The Lower Lights hooked this country-music-loving city boy from the second I heard the festive banjo arrangement at the beginning of “Oh Come, All Ye Faithful.” With a guest vocal from Brooke White (American Idol, Jack and White), that song sets the tone for the sacred and joyful music that follows. Though the album consists of traditional carols we’ve all heard before, like “Away in a Manger” and “Angels We Have Heard on High,” The Lower Lights make them sound fresh in no small part due to the sublime harmonies this collaboration produced.
You’ll want to read Tony’s whole, interesting piece, but I am too excited about this album not to mention their smart and exquisite rendition of Christina Rosetti’s “In the Bleak Mid-Winter” which can hear here, along with a few other cuts — you’re gonna love “Oh Come all Ye Faithful” too! I kicked and starting singing along with that a few bars into it! It’s completely infectious.
Here’s a clip of the recording process, and below it, a non-Christmas hymn, called “Secret Prayer”, just because it’s good! You can order the Christmas Album here
Katrina Fernandez is also fed up with the usual radio loops!