Holiday Review: Sarah McLachlan-The Classic Christmas Album

Release Date: October, 2, 2015
Label: Legacy/ Rmg/ Arista
Sarah McLachlan is an artist that grabs hold of your emotions and doesn’t let them go. This compilation of holiday songs covers many years of her performances both of well-known covers and original pieces. All of them resonate in this season of love and light and I think that’s what I most appreciate about this artist. She takes the lonely moments under the holiday lights and makes them poignant and just as beautiful as the shiniest Christmas tree. Little things bring joy and sorrow, but every bit of our human existence is precious to behold. Other artists on the album are: Diana Krall, The Barenaked Ladies and students from the Sarah McLachlan School Choir.

“Wintersong” is the first song on the album and is an original piece written and composed by Sarah McLachlan and Pierre Marchand in 2006. Isolation and the silence of a solitary Christmas morning shine as cold as the winter sun while McLachlan reminisces about the past.   Emotional and moving, the piano strokes illustrate the lonely starkness of the scene and gradually warm with the memories of the past. Reminders of her love are everywhere but she finds joy in the tender thoughts of Christmas past.

“God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen/We Three Kings” is a piece from 2006 performed by Sarah McLachlan and The Barenaked Ladies. A joyful song filled with strumming guitar movements and a sense of community and familial contentment, you can’t help but groove along with the percussive beat. Jazzy and buoyant, these two classic songs are blended together with seamless vocals and textured sound.

“The First Noel/Mary Mary” is a mashup of two traditional songs from 2006. The ethereal nature of the background music, complete with string and an echoing electronica and percussive elements give a celestial tone to this piece perfectly suited to the heavenly vocals. This is one of my favorite pieces on the album and one you don’t want to miss. What begins as sweet and lilting quickly shifts to an upbeat melody filled with holiday joy and hope.

“Song for a Winter’s Night” is a Gordon Lightfoot cover performed by McLachlan in 1994. This piece again looks at the brightest season of the year and the longing and loneliness that can creep in as we miss those who are closest to us. An empty glass, reading over and over but not comprehending as the urge to be with the one she loves becomes nearly overwhelming. The vocals are breathless, the music simple multi-instrumentation with a few guitar strums are a highlight but the center of this piece is by far the vocals.

Sarah McLachlan is an artist on my one click list. Her emotive vocals and capability to reach into the darkest parts of our hearts and lift out the joy makes me speechless every time. With every album she never ceases to amaze and this one is no different. Filled with an expanse of cover and original works, she brings old classics to life and gives us all a groove to drink eggnog to. Do your ears a favor and make sure this album is in your holiday stocking this year. You won’t be disappointed.

5/5 Stars

Key Tracks: Wintersong, God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen/We Three Kings, The First Noel/Mary Mary, Song for a Winter’s Night


01. Wintersong
02. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas
03. What Child Is This? (Greensleeves)
04. I'll Be Home for Christmas
05. God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen/We three Kings  -  Sarah McLachlan Music Outreach Children's Choir and Youth Choir
06. Happy Xmas (War Is Over)  -  Sarah McLachlan School Choir
07. Prayer of St. Francis  -  Sarah McLachlan School Choir
08. I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day  -  Sarah McLachlan School Choir
09. Space on the Couch for Two  -  Sarah McLachlan School Choir
10. Find Your Voice  -  Sarah McLachlan School Choir
11. River
12. Silent Night
13. The O Little Town of Bethlehem
14. The First Noel/Mary Mary
15. Song for a Winter's Night
16. In a Bleak Mid Winter  - Diana Krall
17. Christmas Time Is Here  - Diana Krall

Dana Wright, Sr. Staff Writer
December 11, 2015
Review Provided By Write A Music Review

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