Sunday, December 4, 2016
MUSIC REVIEW OF THE DAY: SARAH MCLACHLAN - WONDERLAND
Has everybody finally done a Christmas album? The flood of annual yuletide releases has eased to a trickle, and some of the biggest names are onto their second holiday collection. McLachlan has long been a seasonal favourite, thanks to her million-selling 2006 album Wintersong, including her much-loved version of Joni Mitchell's River. 10 years on, she's back at it with more carols, classics and silver bells.
Along with old hands producer Pierre Marchand and drummer Ashwin Sood, McLachlan is joined by guests including the Montreal-based group Half Moon Run, singers Emmylou Harris and Martha Wainwright, and the Bulgarian Symphony Orchestra. But despite quite a few folks involved, the power of the record comes from the quietness and simplicity of several of the tracks, which let McLachlan wow us with her familiar, and yes, angelic voice. I always think of empathy when she sings, and her soothing quality is perfect for these songs of healing and rejuvenation.
That's not to downplay the playing, of course. There's a jazz magic to The Christmas Song, the most prominent instrument an acoustic bass. The subdued White Christmas features just a simple electric guitar and a trumpet for the lead. The team isn't afraid to mess with the traditions either, bringing in a brand-new melody for Let It Snow. This isn't the festive, tree trimming or egg nog gathering album, this is the one you play when the snow is falling outside, and you're under a blanket.