Christmas Around the World
2000 / Robbins Island Music
Review by Michael Debbage
Author Jules Verne took his characters "Around The World In Eighty Days." However, musician Bradley Joseph takes us around the world in one play of this 51-minute long CD. Partially a conceptual project, Joseph presents World Christmas melodies that have endured for centuries making this a unique Christmas project that allows you to enjoy it all year long.
Joseph is a native of Minnesota and while he made progress within his home state, his first big break came courtesy of touring with Yanni from 1990-1995. The constant paycheck and eye-opening experience transcended into his first solo album Hear The Masses that also featured Yanni's drummer Charlie Adams. Though Yanni influences were apparent (and clearly respected considering his recent return to touring with Yanni), he also showed his unique style that includes keyboards with an underlying vocal expression.
The self-produced solo album was enough to attract the attention of the little big label called Narada who signed him. This resulted in the magnificent "Rapture" followed up by the scaled down introspective 1999 "Solo Journey" that while simplistic was still breath-taking.
Which brings us to this 2000 Christmas release that, though unique in concept, does not quite meet the high standard that is associated with Bradley Joseph. The intent was to bring a very unique Christmas recording and that he does with flying colors, transporting us around the world in one play of the CD. Unfortunately, the concept is offset by a limited thin and sparse production. This weakness is most evident via the upbeat "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing" that includes poor use of loops and drum machines.
The creative world theme originates in Eastern Europe courtesy of the Polish carol "Quickly On To Bethlehem." Joseph proceeds to globetrot around the world from northern Norway to Russia to Japan to the United States to Mexico back to the Mother Country England courtesy of the traditional carol "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen."
Tradition is further supported by the more common carols "Silent Night"(Austria), "Joy To The World" (Germany) and "Hark The Herald Angels Sing" (also of Germany). Yet it appears that Joseph's stronger arrangements are via the less traditional ventures evident via the exotic Mexican rooted carol "Riu, Riu Ciu" and the self penned "Far Away On Christmas Day." The latter show's influences of the fluid and flowing Bradley Joseph I have come to know and love. The only other self-penned composition is "A Minnesota Snowfall" that reflects a more naked bare-boned ballad approach.
It is my hope that returning to the Yanni road show will give this very talented musician the opportunity to secure the support and budget of a record label. Despite mixed results, largely due to the production, the concept clearly supports the continued ambitious talents of this creative and warm musician.
December 1, 2000