Home for Christmas
2011 / Heron's Point Music
Review by Michael Debbage
It has been 5 years since pianist Carolyn Southworth released her quite extraordinary debut album At The End Of The Day. Although she has collaborated with daughter Jennifer Thomas on the delightful specialty project The Lullaby Album in 2009, we had to wait another 2 years before hearing from her and once again she chose a specialty theme in the form of Christmas. With such releases being a dime a dozen, a special time of the year requires a special type of artist to separate themselves apart from all the other releases. With Southworth securing assistance from her “musical elves” Jennifer Thomas, Jace Vek and Paul Speer, she once again delivers a beautifully wrapped musical present to her listeners.
One of the bright aspects of Home for Christmas is Southworth’s stellar song choices by mixing traditional familiar Christmas carols with others that are less familiar, resulting in an album that has the feel of the first snowfall…fresh, vibrant and magical. On the familiar path there is the terrific orchestration from Jace Vek courtesy of “The First Noel”, while the unfamiliar path is explored via the song “Twas In The Moon Of Wintertime” or for that matter the spirited “Bring A Torch Jeannette, Isabella”. Either path brings you to the same destination…a pampered lap of musical luxury.
Meanwhile if you want something completely different, Southworth delivers her own Christmas musical gifts courtesy of two self composed songs. “First Snow” will quickly become familiar to you featuring the orchestration arrangements of Jennifer Thomas, which is followed up by the regal “Shades Of White”. If it reminds you of a David Lanz Paul Speer arrangement, well that’s because guitarist Paul Speer decides to pay a musical visit with Zak Dewey assisting on the drums and percussion. Perhaps “Shades Of Narada” would be a more appropriate title as the sheer quality of this song alone is clear evidence that if the Narada recording label were still around Southworth would most likely be an artist on their roster.
At the end of the day, Southworth closes out the album with the ever so familiar “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” that will leave you clinging to your Christmas’s of yesteryears. Considering this album is somewhat of a standout Christmas album, don’t be surprised if Home for Christmas becomes a permanent resident of your future Christmas memories.
December 11, 2011