On A Cold Frosty Morning
Kori Linae Carothers
2022 / IRocknNod Records
Review by Kathy Parsons
On A Cold Frosty Morning is an extra-special Christmas album from pianist/composer Kori Linae Carothers. Recorded at Imaginary Road Studios and produced by Will Ackerman and Tom Eaton, it is Kori's first album since her 2015 Fire In the Rainstorm. The ten tracks include four original compositions and Kori's arrangements of six traditional Christmas songs. The stellar crew of supporting artists includes Charlie Bisharat (violin), Eugene Friesen (cello), Jill Haley (English horn), Noah Wilding (wordless vocals), Tom Eaton (bass, keyboards, shakers) and Will Ackerman (guitar, rainstick and Hopi drum). In the liner notes, Kori introduces the album with: "I have always adored Christmas music. After 7 years of various trials and tribulations, I needed to express myself through my music and was encouraged by my family and friends and fans to make this album." And what a wonderful musical gift to the world it is! Very peaceful and serene, the emotions expressed in the music are warm, sincere and soothing - the perfect antidote to the rush and stress the holiday season can bring.
On A Cold Frosty Morning begins with an incredible arrangement of "What Child Is This?" that features piano, cello, violin, voices and bass. Kori says in the liner notes that this has been her favorite Christmas song since she was a child, and that very special affinity for the piece really comes through; Charlie and Eugene send it soaring. "Joseph, Kind Joseph" was copyrighted in 1980 by The Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Kori's lovely arrangement includes piano, cello and English horn. "Emmanuel" is also known as "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel." Arranged for piano, keyboard and bass, Kori wanted the piece to have a "very wintery and sparse" sound, and it almost shimmers with a chilly sparkle. "Christmas in Vermont" is one of Kori's originals and features piano, cello, violin and bass. Peaceful and calm, it feels very much like a musical depiction of the cover artwork. Kori also composed "First Snow," which was inspired by a child's first experience with snow. Piano, keyboards, bass and voices create a feeling of magic and wonder with snippets of "Canon in D" woven into the melody. "Memories of Christmas Past" is possibly the most personal of Kori's originals on this album: "I wrote this song, channeling all my memories of Christmases that have come and gone. I wanted it to have an ethereal sound to help me remember those times with my family and friends. We achieved this!" Piano, violin, guitar, bass, and percussion blend to create a sound that is beautifully nostalgic, loving and spiritual. The haunting "Coventry Carol" begins as piano solo for the first verse and then English horn, keyboard and bass are added - a gorgeous arrangement that is both traditional and contemporary - and is definitely a favorite! "Past Three O'Clock" is a traditional English carol that was part of South Coast Repertory’s production of A Christmas Carol, which Kori and her family attended for about twenty-seven years. A very ethereal arrangement, it features piano, violin, keyboard, bass and voices. "Gesu Bambino" is the only piano solo on the album and is a song Kori has been singing and whistling since high school. "Crystal Fields" originally appeared on Kori's 2009 album, Trillium, and she "re-imagined" it for this album. Piano, English horn, cello, keyboard, bass and voices create musical magic and bring this excellent album to a close.
If you are looking for some peaceful Christmas music for the holidays and beyond, On A Cold Frosty Morning is a great choice! It is available from Bandcamp, Amazon, Apple Music/iTunes, and streaming sites including Spotify. Physical CDs are available from Bandcamp and include a beautiful booklet with info about each piece as well as gorgeous artwork.
Very highly recommended!
December 5, 2022