is a live performance recording by the Seattle-based instrumental folk group, Erwilian. This all-acoustic ensemble wanted to capture the energy of a live performance for this album, and what better way to do that than to record a series of concerts and compile the best of the best? A few of the eleven songs (some of which are medleys) came from previous recordings, but most are new arrangements and compositions. With the mid-winter theme, some of the songs are Christmas carols, but only a few are very familiar, making this an album suitable for year-round listening. Some of the introductory comments are a little hard to hear clearly, but the music is stellar! I did most of my listening for this review while driving back to Oregon from the SF Bay Area, and I enjoyed the album so much that the miles just flew by.
opens with “In Convivio,” a medley of “Boar’s Head Carol” and “Ding! Dong! Merrily On High.” Joyful and spirited, this lively piece will have you up and dancing in no time! Guitars, recorders, and hammered dulcimers send the music skyward in a big, happy way. “Midwinter's Night
” is a beautiful arrangement of a soulful tune from Blackmore’s Night. “South Prairie Rain” first appeared on Erwilian’s 2005 release, Renovata and is an original composition with a contemporary American folk flavor. “Wandering” is a wonderful medley of “I Wonder As I Wander” and “Wayfaring Stranger.” I absolutely love this track! Jordan Buetow’s haunting soprano recorder goes right to the heart - a stunning arrangement! “Billy In the Lowground/Swinging On a Gate” returns to the light-hearted merriment of the opening track - upbeat and carefree. “Calling Birds” is a lovely arrangement of a John Nilsen tune performed on dulcimers, guitars, and gentle percussion - elegant and stately with a lot of heart. “A-Wassailing” is another favorite. A medley of “God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen” and Paul Stookey’s “A-Soalin’,” it conjures up images of colorful Renaissance pageantry as well as carolers in the streets. Spirited with just a touch of bittersweet, this is another truly great track. “This Little Babe” is a medley of the title song by Benjamin Britten, “What Child Is This,” and “Come, You Shepherds” - wonderfully stirring! The encore track, “Gigues,” is a lively medley of “Bring a Torch, Jeanette, Isabella,” “I Saw Three Ships,” Sussex Carol,” “The Snow Lay On the Ground,” and “In Dulci Jubilo,” bringing this excellent album to a joyful close.
I discovered Erwilian a few months ago, although they have been around for awhile, and finding their music has been one of my favorite discoveries of the year! Midwinter's Night
is available from erwilian.com
, Amazon, iTunes, and CD Baby. Very highly recommended!!!