A Winter Blessing - The Gift
2018 / Tuscan Sun
Review by Michael Debbage
So it has been a decade since the wonderful Seay released the accessible seasonal theme A Winter Blessing – Songs For The Season. But whether we review A Winter Blessing - The Gift as a brand new release or the 10 Year Deluxe Edition with bonus tracks plus a re-mastering of the original tracks does it really matter? The original recording was stellar and adding superb bonus tracks only makes Seay’s revisit of A Winter Blessing even more enduring.
As per the original review, blessing is a word of encouragement or approval that usually also has a spiritual connotation to it. With an emphasis on winter and all things associate with Christmas, Seay embraces the essence of the season on both a commercial and spiritual level with her gorgeous choir of voices and multi layered keyboards. Since her original release, Seay has added four brand new tracks that include “On This Starry Night”, “Father Christmas Eyes”, “Winter” and the beautiful Amy Grant/Chris Eaton cover “Breath Of Heaven”. Of the new bonus tracks, “On This Starry Night” jumps out the most significantly with Seay’s heavenly vocals and atmospheric keyboards that are exhilarating. Nevertheless the inspiring “Father Christmas Eyes” comes a close second. Apparently Brian Vibberts and Steven Peppos were involved in the additional pieces while Ricky Kej was also involved in the remixing and re-mastering of “Carol Of the Bells”.
As for the original tracks and initial review, the world faces significant economic worries and a rather bleak future, Seay counters our fears by bringing her message of hope, love, peace and joy courtesy of the ever optimistic composition “All Around The World”. The song encapsulates the spirit found on “We Are The World” and “Do They Know Its Christmas Time?” resulting in a song that will elevate and lift your spirits high. Despite the lofty expectations set by the stellar opening song, the enchantment continues courtesy of “A Christmas Heart” as Seay displays her soft yet soulful side that brings to mind Annie Lennox. If it is a solo performance that you prefer skip forward to the more traditional rendition of “In The Bleak Midwinter”.
In complete contrast, Seay also focuses on her gifted ability to create vocal instrumental masterpieces by transforming her expressive vocals into a sea of a Seay choir creating breathtaking, beautiful harmonies that are simply mesmerizing. “Winterlight” has a more buoyant approach matched by Seay’s rendition of “Carol Of The Bells”. The more reflective moments can be found on “Snowfall” and the mystical “Whispering Pines” that certainly draws inspiration from Enya.
The production is once again meticulous in detail embellished by soft guitars, fretless bass, keyboards, strings and percussion. Largely self-composed material that embraces the season of Christmas, A Winter Blessing is accessible enough to be generous all year around. Include the 4 brand new tracks, and then they only enhance what is already an impressive recording. The gift of A Winter Blessing whether it be subtitled the Songs For The Season, The Gift or the 10th Anniversary Deluxe Edition really does not matter. If you missed it first time around rectify this as A Winter Blessing no matter how you subtitle it is a gift that just keeps giving and giving. Currently available via digital download there are plans early next year to release a limited CD commemorative edition.
December 23, 2018
with David Arkenstone