Dead Of Winter is a gorgeous collection of Christmas gems elegantly arranged with lush synth textures, acoustic guitar, and beautiful soprano female vocals. The 10 Wispy December Noels are beautifully crafted and arranged holiday selections often passed over by radio stations and department stores that recycle the same familiar holiday staples year after year. The music is rich with melody and counter melody and with fluid layers of soaring vocal harmonies. The compositions have elements of new age, hints of spirituality, and also cross over into electronica while at other times nuanced with a more unplugged acoustic type feel, and the songs are all beautifully sung by new vocalist Jennifer Jones. This collection of seasonal music might best be suited to fans of artists like Enya, Sarah McLachlan and even Goldfrapp, but can be enjoyed by all. This CD is packaged inside a beautiful design and makes an affordable and thoughtful gift to the music aficionado just a little left of the dial. If you already own Ghost of Christmas Past, this makes a beautiful companion disc, if not, be sure to check out that CD available here too.
The CD opens with with the ethereal, original "Snow In December," a new age seasonal ballad, with bells falling like snow flakes and lyrics that read like poetry. While the New York Room's previous Christmas CD, Ghosts of Christmas Past, had several original tracks penned by songwriter Matthew Ervin, this is the only one this time around, and blends beautifully with the rest of the traditional holiday songs and leaves the listener wishing there were more.
Next up is the a lesser known Christmas classic "Angels We Have Heard On High," but for those of you already familiar with it, you might not at first recognize it in this arrangement of synthesizer pads and church bells framed in by a softly strummed acoustic guitar, and while the original vocal melody remains true, it is enhanced with lush harmonies.
"The Holly And The Ivy" is one of the softest, most beautiful seasonal songs ever written, and somehow often overlooked on most Christmas collections and remains somewhat unknown. This version accentuates the original arrangement with soft vocal choir pads underpinning the soaring female vocals on top, amidst soothing flutes, bells and acoustic guitar. If you have missed out on this song over the years, be sure to make it a part of your playlist this year.
If you appreciate original interpretations of holiday carols, than this rendition of "Love Came Down At Christmas" should be for you. Full of electronic production, synth arpeggios and soaring pads, creatively arranged with original melodies and some new lyrics by songwriter Matthew Ervin blended with Christina Rossetti's original verses.
"O Holy Night" showcases vocalist Jennifer Jones gorgeous voice, not just her natural, silky soprano sound, but her mastery of harmonies, sometimes subtle and other times commanding and almost taking over the lead, she is able to weave several harmonies into one beautiful lyric.
Already at the half way point, "We Three Kings" is another overlooked holiday noel, perhaps as it is not as upbeat as more popular carols, but still equally beautiful and deserving of more listens. This interpretation opens with a somber violin mimicking the vocal melody over a softly strummed acoustic guitar and lush synth textures, with the vocals, again, particularly the harmonies, breathing new life into this piece of holiday music.
For most people on this side of the pond, the French carol "Il Est Ne Le Devin Enfant" is something you probably haven't heard before, but we think you'll be glad you did, even if you can't understand the words. The New York Room performs this with a little orchestral fanfare, with the regalia of trumpets and sleigh bells, driven by a marching snare drum and underscored again with lush synth textures and framed with beautiful vocal phrasings.
"O Come O Come Emmanuel" opens with a haunting vocal over a drone in it's original Latin, and then expands into a piano ballad with Jones' voice taking command of the song, at times almost operatic, and others soft and soothing with the lyrics going back and forth between the English translation and the original Latin.
The CD concludes with two lesser known pieces of the season, both originating from England. "The Coventry Carol" is still another often overlooked holiday noel and beautifully crafted and performed here, with Jones' voice again being the highlight of the song, and the playful drinking song "The Gloucestershire Wassail."