Blackmore's Night Winter Carols
CD Review by Scott "Dr. Music" Itter
/ 12/2007

Track listing
1. Hark The Herald Angels Sing / Come All Ye Faithful 2. I Saw Three Ships
3. Winter (Basse Dance) 4. Ding Dong Merrily On High 5. Ma-O-Tzur
6. Good King Wenceslas 7. Lord Of The Dance / Simple Gifts 8. We Three Kings
9. Wish You Were Here 10. Emmanuel 11. Christmas Eve 12. We Wish You A Merry Christmas

Label: Locomotive Spain / Release date:
November 28, 2006

I'm usually not in the habit of describing my surroundings when writing reviews, but this record has touched me in a very special way. You see, it's early December and large white flakes are perching themselves softly upon the trees outside of my window. As the snow drifts downward from the heavens past the Christmas lights that have been tacked to the house, it throws reflections of red and green light as it falls. It's a beautiful sight to behold, especially seeing the flame of my warm fireplace smiling back at me off the glass of my window. Why am I describing this to you, you ask? Because the atmosphere I describe captures the spirit of this record. Besides some traditional Christmas faves, vocalist Candice Night, guitar god Ritchie Blackmore, and their band of merry minstrels give us songs of beauty that are meant to be enjoyed next to a warm fire on a cold winter evening.

The record starts with a medley of two traditional Christmas songs, "Hark The Herald Angels Sing" and "Come All Ye Faithful." Now, besides the exquisite voice of Candice Night and the tremendous talent of the entire band being on display here, there is a lyrical fascination on this lead track. "Christ" is not used in either of the two songs. "Christ is born in Bethlehem " is replaced with "Peace has come to Bethlehem" in the "Hark The Herald Angels Sing" portion of the medley; and in "Come All Ye Faithful," "Christ the Lord" is traded in for "He is the Lord." It takes some getting used to, and I wonder if there is some kind of "taboo" here, but nonetheless, this track is an excellent way to kick off a disc of joy and happiness. "I Saw Three Ships" has an Irish Dance rhythm and a genuine organic overtone. With the use of the pennywhistle and/or flute, tambourine, and other traditional ancient instruments I wouldn't begin to try to name, the band creates possibly the happiest piece on the album. As we move on to the haunting sounds of "Winter (Basse Dance)," we find the great Ritchie Blackmore playing classical guitar in front of a foreboding string section. This is a Ritchie Blackmore original, and definitely the darkest piece on the record.

"Ding Dong Merrily On High" is really beautiful here. Ms. Night starts the song with her angelic voice being as sweet and cheerful as ever. As the song progresses, the incorporation of a choir, some light strings, and church bells makes this simply superb. The next track is a traditional Hebrew song entitled "Ma-O-Tzur," in which Night sings the first half in its native language, and the second half in English. The addition of this song sends a clear message that the band did not want to create any segregation here. These songs are really for all to celebrate and enjoy, no matter which religious faction you might belong to.

Toward the end of this special set of songs, we find a song called "Wish You Were Here." This is a song originally done by The Rednex, and a song that the band is extremely fond of. They recorded it for their debut album, "Shadow of the Moon," as well as this release. This is a beautiful song that is once again performed perfectly here. It doesn't exactly fit the "winter" mood of this album as well as the other tracks, but the song is so good that it's a welcome addition to the record regardless. Before this record ends we find Blackmore's Night doing one more original song that is a real gem. "Christmas Eve" fits the mood perfectly, as if it has been a traditional Christmas favorite for centuries. With its soft melody and its bouncy refrain, the album is worth owning just for this song alone.

As the album winds up with "We Wish You A Merry Christmas," I realize that this is Blackmore's Night's gift to all of us. This album's overtly joyous spirit is a testament to the talent of this entire band. Whether 'tis is the season or you're out riding a hot summer wave, the spirit of "Winter Carols" can carry you off to that special place where the fire is still smiling its warm smile and the snow is continuing to fall.