Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
December 02, 2021, 05:52:25 AM

Home Help Search Calendar Login Register
+  Celtic Woman Forum
|-+  The Shows
| |-+  The Magic of Christmas 2019 Tour
| | |-+  The Magic of Christmas album (Thoughts and Reactions)
« previous next »
Pages: [1] Go Down Print
Author Topic: The Magic of Christmas album (Thoughts and Reactions)  (Read 2475 times)
CWazyTom
Global Moderator
Hero Member
*****
Posts: 1679


CWazy for Celtic Woman. Chlovër for life.

View Profile
« on: October 25, 2019, 01:19:06 AM »

I finished listening to Celtic Woman: The Magic of Christmas!

Track List

1. We Wish You a Merry Christmas  (Group)
2. Angels We Have Heard On High  (Group)
3. Do You Hear What I Hear  (Megan)
4. Deck the Halls  (Group)
5. O Come, O Come Emmanuel  (Mairead)
6. Amid the Falling Snow  (Group)
7. O Holy Night  (Group)
8. Sleigh Ride  (Group)
9. Greensleeves  (Tara)
10. Dia Do Bheatha  (Eabha)
11. Carol of the Bells  (Group)
12. Wexford Carol  (Group)
13. Silent Night  (Tara with choir)
14. Auld Lang Syne  (Group)
15. Feliz Navidad  (Group)

Reactions

Wow!

That was fresh and really fun to listen to!

The arrangements were totally different from the ones they've been performing on the Christmas tours. I've never heard the songs performed this way before by any artist and that in itself is quite an achievement. This album is definitely going to stand out from the other Christmas music that's available this year.

Celtic Woman's previous Christmas albums were all on the classical side of the spectrum. This album is what I'd refer to as a "pops" style. Like Voices of Angels, there's a lot of orchestration and choir to back the girls and their gorgeous harmony. But unlike Voices of Angels, which featured a lot of smooth, sweeping sounds, this album features a lot of short sounds, almost a staccato (I'm too far removed from my music theory, 25+ years, to remember the correct term). But whatever the style is called, the album has a lively feel and the songs have a skip in their step. That certainly makes the songs fun to listen to.

I enjoyed every song on the album. There weren't any songs I didn't like. There were a few instances where I thought the arrangements got a little too goofy for parts of the Celtic Woman fan base (the end of Deck the Halls, for instance). Hopefully the playfulness and personality will be appreciated and doesn't put people off. For fans dead set on hearing a classical style of music, I'm not sure if they'll enjoy this. But on the other side of the spectrum, this style will probably appeal more to a mainstream audience than anything Celtic Woman has previously recorded.

Whether the style they chose suits your tastes or not, the harmony is intricate and unquestionably beautiful.

A few moments that stood out from my first listen...

"Do You Hear What I Hear?" If you hear Megan's strong and beautiful voice and can't help but be amazed, then yes, I hear what you hear.

Deck the Halls was fantastic! I'm not sure if everyone will like the ending, but if you liked how Time to Say Goodbye (from Voices of Angels) concluded, you'll probably enjoy the end of Deck the Halls as well.

Mairead's O Come, O Come Emmanuel is by far my favourite version of the song I've heard. This isn't typically one of my favourite Christmas songs to listen to, Mairead, her heart, and her lovely voice make this song so easy to enjoy.

Tara's performance in Greensleeves was breathtaking! She draws emotion out of every note like nobody else can.

I thought that with Mairead and Megan, they could have gone for a bigger climax with O Holy Night. It was a really pretty arrangement overall though.

How did they make Sleigh Ride work so well? This might be the first time I've actually liked listening to an arrangement of this song. It was really well done, both fun and pleasant.

The way Dia Do Bheatha was performed was reminiscent of Garden of Eden from Ancient Land. I absolutely love it!

Auld Lang Syne most closely resembles what was performed over the past few Christmas tours. The combination of the sweeping orchestration and harmony is sooooo good!

Overall, I loved this album. The unconventional arrangements came a surprise, but it was a pleasant one. It was certainly fun to listen to and felt very fresh. It's always a risk changing something that people absolutely love already (case in point, Voices of Angels). But there's also risk in stagnating and continuing to perform the same songs the same way. Even if some people don't agree with me, I think performing the songs in this new and intriguing way was a better choice than slightly-tweaking familiar arrangements, although either approach would have sounded great.

I love all of Celtic Woman's previous Christmas albums (except for maybe "A Celtic Family Christmas" which was a bit hit and miss for me). I'm hesitant to pick a favourite because they're all so different. A Christmas Celebration had a deliberate pace at times, but the harmony was sublime. Home for Christmas was powerful and spectacular! The Magic of Christmas will probably be the most polarizing for the fan base, but I really enjoyed listening to it and I think it was the most fun! I hope you love it too!
« Last Edit: October 25, 2019, 09:28:37 PM by CWazyTom » Logged
ShiningBright
Full Member
***
Posts: 201


'Sé mo laoch mo ghile mear 'Sé mo Shéasar, gile me

View Profile My blog
« Reply #1 on: October 25, 2019, 11:53:28 AM »

It's gorgeous - and almost exactly what I have hoped for! It's, in a way, the third sort of Christmas album. The first was silvery and gentle, like magical winter forest, with frost and sparkles and stars, somehow ethereal. The second was rich and heavy, reds and golds, a grand celebration, lush and glamourous. This is jolly and cheerful, and a bit rustic, yet at times very thoughtful and at others dramatic - a warm, cosy Christmas at home, completed with visits to Church and walks (and rides) in the snow. It's more down-to-earth for the most time, yet it ascends very high, very suddenly, and it has a great sort of intimacy. There's also a sort of gentle humour to it, the arrangements being intricate and almost playful. Some of them sound a sort of miniature version of English choral music, others have a few very modern elements, and then some are very different altogether, all with some sort of twist to them, no song goes down quite as expected, there's always something to it. It's also very balanced - I like that all girl has one solo, except Tara who has, well, one and a half. I prefer group songs for the Christmas albums, yet it's good that all of them had their moment to shine with perfectly fitting solos. I also like that Tara had the most solo time, so to speak, since the first two Christmas albums and dvds are slightly lacking in variety for the fiddler, who was, of course, Máiréad back then. I also like the way they included Silent Night - it's a sort of traditon to have it on a Celtic Woman Christmas album, but since there's already three full vocal versions, they have found a very to put it in a smaller, subtler, and yet completely original place. And I love the balance of traditional and modern, done-before, long-wished-for and unexpected songs!
Logged
kay_girl_97
Jr. Member
**
Posts: 73

View Profile
« Reply #2 on: October 25, 2019, 07:01:43 PM »

Was Greensleeves ever considered a Christmas song? Sorry if that's a dumb question, I just neverheard it as such

But yes, the whole album is great.
Logged
CWazyTom
Global Moderator
Hero Member
*****
Posts: 1679


CWazy for Celtic Woman. Chlovër for life.

View Profile
« Reply #3 on: October 25, 2019, 07:17:45 PM »

Was Greensleeves ever considered a Christmas song? Sorry if that's a dumb question, I just neverheard it as such

But yes, the whole album is great.

"What Child Is This," is basically Greensleeves with lyrics.
Logged
mattycakes
Jr. Member
**
Posts: 56

View Profile
« Reply #4 on: October 25, 2019, 07:37:44 PM »

Won't be able to grab it until tomorrow probably.... Have to wait until then.  :(
Logged
Tracie
Hero Member
*****
Posts: 877


View Profile
« Reply #5 on: October 26, 2019, 09:00:42 AM »

Excellent write-ups Tom and ShiningBright! I have already listened to the album multiple times, having played it on repeat while working yesterday and again now as I write this. How can I even put into words how much I love this entire album? Every song is beyond incredible! The album is so beautiful and fun. Phenomenal release! I really hope they do a DVD filming for it and I'll absolutely be there!
Logged
CWazyTom
Global Moderator
Hero Member
*****
Posts: 1679


CWazy for Celtic Woman. Chlovër for life.

View Profile
« Reply #6 on: October 31, 2019, 05:58:46 PM »

I love this album more and more each time I listen.

I haven't started playing my other Celtic Woman Christmas material yet this year, but this one is a serious contender for my favorite Christmas album. This one might even be top 2 along with Ancient Land.
Logged
mattycakes
Jr. Member
**
Posts: 56

View Profile
« Reply #7 on: October 31, 2019, 09:00:37 PM »

Alrighty! Here's my review:

First of all, I truly did love the album overall. Unlike ACC and HFC which had lush orchestrates (HFC in particular, which felt much more Classical/Operatic in nature), I loved that this album made extensive use of the pipes and whistles, bodhrans, and Tara's fiddle. All of this combined seemed to give it a much more Irish feeling than many of the previous Christmas albums. But there were some parts I felt were lacking, particularly with the pacing. Here's the breakdown:

We Wish You A Merry Christmas: I like this song quite a bit! I like it much more than the HFC version primarily because the overall nature of this version (particularly the orchestration) has a much more whimsical feeling that I love! The only thing I didn't like was that brief moment where the pacing of the song slowed down for the "Joy and love" part. I felt that drop was unnecessary, but since the music almost immediately went back to whimsical, it didn't bother me as much as in a later song.

Angels We Have Heard On High: I really loved this one! It started off with that same whimsical quality as the previous but quickly grew to become one of the big orchestra songs of this album. The girls harmonies and abilities were on display beautifully. Now, I do wish that instead of breaking up that final "Deo" into 2, they would've made it one long, high note for the girls. It would have shown off their impressive range and harmony better. But it was still great!

Do You Hear What I Hear: What a wonderful solo for Megan! And she sang it beautifully! However! I do think this is another song with pacing issues, but only because we know Megan has a much more extensive range than they're letting her use. If the final verse hadn't started off gently and had been grander (perhaps with more brass, as is typical for the final verse of that song), Megan could have shown more power. And I really do feel they need to showcase her impressive abilities more.

Deck The Halls: I love this one! Pretty much perfect all around! Again, it had a more whimsical air to it and it and showcased the girls voices very well. Great song!

O Come, O Come Emmanuel: Oh my word... I ADORE this song! Like Tom said, not usually a song I enjoy, but the arrangement and Mairead's impressive vocals make this a very good song. The beautiful thing about this song is that it perfectly displays Mairead Carlin's talents. That's what I want in a solo!

Amid The Falling Snow: This was such a beautiful song and so perfect for this album. As I said before the breakdown, it seemed like this album is more Irish than previous Christmas albums, and this song is no exception. The ethereal quality of the music, the lovely lyrics, and the slightly whispering quality that the girls added to their vocals truly made this song (which would probably seem very bland in any of their other Christmas albums) truly shine.

O Holy Night: Alright... So... Unpopular opinion time... I didn't care for this arrangement much. Don't misunderstand me. It was lovely for what it was, but I feel it could have and SHOULD HAVE been much more. With this current lineup, particularly with Mairead and Megan, they could've made this song much more grand. And the thing is, this song, no matter who performs it, is always a grand song with the most soaring vocals performers can provide. I'd much prefer the old version, thank you very much. Next.

Sleigh Ride: Okay! Back to being nice! I really enjoyed this song! It's one of those where you can hear the girls having fun! But the style of the music, when you listen to the bass and the percussion, and when you consider the way the girls are singing, leads me to feel like this song would've been better with less orchestration and a more smooth jazz feeling. If they had combined all of that and made the entire finale of this song an entirely group portion with close harmonies, oh! It would've been some CW jazz perfection!

Greensleeves: You know, I have to admit, I've never been a big fan of What Child Is This. It never connected with me and so I didn't care at all for Meav and Mairead's version. But this? Oh was it ever breathtaking. Tara is wonderful at the slower songs and she plays with so much emotion. Mairead was better at the fast songs but Tara takes you to another plane when she goes for the slower, emotional songs and this one is no exception. Bravo Tara!

Dia Do Bheatha: I don't have a clue what Eabha's saying and I still haven't been able to find a translation but I truly don't care. No one, NO ONE brings Irish singing to life the way Eabha does. I absolutely adored this song. It fits her voice to perfection and the arrangement is absolutely lovely. Again, a perfect song for a seemingly more Irish Christmas album.

Carol Of The Bells: Remember how I mentioned that I felt some of the songs on this album suffer from pacing issues? Well, here's another one. The song started off as absolute fire! I loved the musical arrangement and the girls sounded fantastic! Tara was playing beautifully. And oh! What's this? Adding some uillean pipes to Tara's fast playing style to spice things up?! Well! Count me in! I was absolutely here for this song! Then, for some reason, from 2:35 until 3:05-ish, they slowed the song down to an absolute crawl. I don't know why they decided to do that! I mean yes, the harmonies among the girls were good here, but why do that? This song had defeated the original in every way for me until that part! The ending of it, after the crawl, was fantastic too! Had they kept the pace for this song going all the way through, it would have been PERFECT!!! Why?! Why slow it down?! I really don't understand that and it's irritating me!

The Wexford Carol: This was a lovely Irish song to the album. Again, a lovely and very light arrangement. The girls sounded lovely. They sounded wonderful together. So much so that I wish they had made this an a cappella song instead. But! Regardless, it was a beautiful song.

Silent Night: Now this was a surprise! And quite a pleasant one, at that! I was expecting the VOA version redone with Megan in Susan's place, but this was quite the pleasant twist. This arrangement was lovely for such a short version and Tara and the choir sounded wonderful tofether. Excellent job!

Auld Lang Syne: This song.... THIS SONG!!! Pure perfection! There's not much else I can say about this song. The musical arrangement was stunning. The harmonies were marvelous. This is my absolute favorite off this album! I play this song every time I play this album. This is the song I sing to myself. This is the song I remembered most. This is the one that's stick with me the most from this album. I honestly can't think of a single bad thing to say about this. I have no critique to make. 15/10, well done ladies!

Feliz Navidad: I like this song! I applaud the group for trying something so very un-Celtic for this album. The arrangement was lovely and seemed very acoustic, as if this was the version they sing in the bus when someone whips out a guitar. It's a fun little song and I like their version very much. My only true criticism is that this song and Auld Lang Syne's positions on the album should've been switched.


Overall, I think it was a very successful first Christmas album for the Gavin Murphy era of Celtic Woman. I also really enjoyed the more Irish feeling of this album. Apart from ACC's Christmas Pipes and Don Oiche Ud, and HFC's Light Of Christmas Morn and Auld Lang Syne, the other albums weren't very Celtic. But almost every single one of these songs made excellent use of Irish pipes and/or whistles or bodhrans or fiddle. That have the overall album a wonderful Celtic feeling that I truly believe made this album so special. Well done!

Overall score: 8/10
« Last Edit: October 31, 2019, 09:03:30 PM by mattycakes » Logged
Tracie
Hero Member
*****
Posts: 877


View Profile
« Reply #8 on: October 31, 2019, 10:11:28 PM »

Wonderful write-up mattycakes!

I am so in love with this album! Before it was released, I had already told Tom that I knew it would be my favorite Christmas album. I went into it with extremely high expectations, and then listened for the first time with my jaw hanging down to the floor! They completely blew me away, even when I was expecting it to be my favorite Christmas album! And I have continued to be blown away each of the multiple times I have listened. Did this album really only come out a week ago? Seems wrong for how many times I've played it! I looooove this current lineup and the music they are releasing so much, I can't even put it into proper words ❤
Logged
Maloney
Jr. Member
**
Posts: 72

View Profile
« Reply #9 on: November 04, 2019, 12:56:03 PM »

well,  I have the CD but have made a promise not to play it until after Thanksgiving.
Its going to be a long month.
Logged
CWazyTom
Global Moderator
Hero Member
*****
Posts: 1679


CWazy for Celtic Woman. Chlovër for life.

View Profile
« Reply #10 on: November 22, 2021, 08:38:10 PM »

Listened to the album for the first time of the season and found myself appreciating even more than before what Mairéad Carlin and Eabha brought to the group harmony. The harmony is absolutely gorgeous! I really wish they had recorded a Christmas DVD with MC, Megan, Éabha and Tara.
Logged
Pages: [1] Go Up Print 
« previous next »
 
SMF 2.0.17 | SMF © 2017, Simple Machines
Celtic Woman Forum, The Magic of Christmas album (Thoughts and Reactions) - Theme by GlenS