Christmas and holiday music can be like a box of chocolates – you never know what you’re going to get. Sometimes the track can be such a familiar song that listening to it is like picking the plain chocolate bite – it’s fine, but not as delish as some of the other confectionery delights. One album that is full of the hazelnut chocolates and none of the coconut filling chocolates (full disclosure: I love hazelnut and despise coconut) is Margaret Dorn and The Accidentals’ A Capella Holiday Classics. Jam packed with songs that flavor the holidays, and sewn in are a few rarities, the album features over 30 songs.
For the purpose of this review, I have chosen to highlight a handful of the songs: “Carol Of The Bells”, “Hodie Christus”, “The First Noel”, “The Wassail Song” and “What Child Is This”. These songs are all a capella, meaning it’s just the team of voices creating the music. In “Carol Of The Bells”, this couldn’t be more important and invigorating. I almost feel like adding instrumentation to the song would ruin it – it’s that good. I wanted to chase their echoes, live inside this song for the season. The drama and the romanticism of the season is captured so eloquently and divine. I can’t quite do the song justice with my words. Their voices are mesmerizing.
“Hodie Christus” reaches glorious harmonies. This Gregorian chant in Latin means “Today is Christ is born”. The voices rejoice and the song flows like a story unfolding. This song has a traditional slant, and is a Christian song obviously, but even if you weren’t a practitioner of the faith, one would be hard pressed to not be overcome and impressed by the emotional trigger. I felt the same in “The First Noel”, another traditional carol. I’m not sure if it’s Hollywood’s doing, but listening to Margaret Dorn and The Accidentals has a certain New York -vibe happening. As if the busy city served as a backdrop and their voices stopped traffic. It’s like a montage of snow, faith, energy, family and harmony bombarded me.
“The Wassail Song”, which I had no idea was actually the name of this famous song, is pure bliss. If you’re like me, you didn’t immediately connect that this is the song that has the lyrics: here we come a-caroling, among the leaves so green, here we come a wandering, so fair to be seen, love and joy come to you, and to your wassail too. Now I know, I thought, as I merrily hummed along. After escaping to New York in most of these songs, I also found my way into a little Charles Dickens-like village and ready for some hot cider. I’m hopeful that the members of Margaret Dorn and The Accidentals are impressed with my imagination – because even if they didn’t write the book and the chapter on these carols, they certainly ‘read’ it with enjoyment and love. A Capella Holiday Classics is definitely a keeper and one to exchange with fellow audiophiles.