Friday, November 30, 2007

Reviews:: Jill Barber, Rose Cousins & Meaghan Smith - A New Kind Of Light

Ok, tomorrow is December 1st, and although TV commercials and the muzak played at the mall would say otherwise, I always consider the 1st of December the start of the holiday season. Well then, I'd say the timing is perfect for this little Friday morning treat I have for you. A New Kind Of Light is a new Christmas album by three of Halifax's finest singer-songwriters: Jill Barber, Rose Cousins, and Meaghan Smith. 100% of the proceeds of this album are going to foodbanks around the Maritimes, and if you're in Halifax, the ladies are performing tonight at the Rebecca Cohn in support of the album.

As you can imagine, if you're familiar with any of these three performers, this is a beautiful Christmas album. Recorded at CBC Radio's Studio H here in Halifax, the 12 songs are a mix of traditional favorites and original songs written by the performers specifically for this project. Petra and I were listening to the album last night, and we were pleased to discover that the original songs measured up very well against the classics. Christmas songs are so ubiquitous that sometimes they can overshadow any original songs that they share an album with, but that's not the case on A New Kind Of Light.

Jill Barber is likely the most familiar name amongst the three ladies on the album, due to the success of her last album For All Time (Which was recently named Female Recording of the year and the Nova Scotia Music Awards). Jill has a beautiful warble to her voice, and she uses it to brilliant effect on her up-tempo, country-ish version of Blue Christmas, which will leave you anything but, as well as her own songs, the festive This Christmas and the poignant Try For Peace.

Rose Cousins is also a recent winner at the Nova Scotia music awards, with wins for best new recording and sharing the Folk/Roots recording of the year with David Myles. You will agree with the folks at the Music Nova Scotia once you hear her beautiful, understated take on the Charlie Brown Christmas classic Christmas Time Is Here. Such great version of a classic song, great way to start the album. Rose also contributes the title track, which she wrote as an attempt to write a cliche-free song that captured the spirit of the holidays. Mission accomplished as it really is a great song.

At least for me, Meaghan Smith was the least-known of these three talented ladies before hearing this album. After hearing it, her contributions to the album are perhaps the biggest surprise. She not only sings lead on three songs (including 2 of her own, the fun It Snowed and I'll Be Here For Christmas which many Maritimers away from home can relate to) but she also did the artwork for the CD, and arranged a couple of the songs (The Angel Gabriel and her take on The Little Drummer Boy). This transplanted Ontarian is has an album coming out next year, and is certainly one to keep an eye on.

I've titled this a review, but that's a little deceiving, as this is nothing short of a whole-hearted endorsement. I'm certainly less of a scrooge than the Ack (was, he claims to have changed), and in fact Christmas is really the only holiday I really get into. So I don't mind hearing some Christmas music when the season arrives (mainly this album, which you can still find on vinyl in my parents basement), and if I can help give a little something back to the community at the same time, that is certainly a yuletide win-win. The CD is available at Lawton's Drug Stores throughout the Maritimes, so what are you waiting for, get out and buy your copy today (and yes smart guy/gal, before you make an un-Christmassy wisecrack, I paid for my copy). Live outside the Maritimes? Not to worry, there's a handy order form you can fill out to get a copy.

MP3:: Little Drummer Boy (Meaghan Smith on lead vocals)

MP3:: New Kind Of Light (Rose Cousins on lead vocals)

Posted at 10:11 AM by naedoo :: 0 comments

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