Album Review: “The Best Of Christmas” by Celtic Woman

I’ve never had a moment where I’ve had three open Thursdays (review days) and three holiday related albums come out at the same time. I figured I’d take advantage of it and review all of them for you as part of my blogmas!

The first one is obviously by the lovely ladies of Celtic Woman. They released this album back in mid-November. If you’ve never heard their versions of Christmas carols, you sort of get a taste in the previous album “Voice Of Angels” as there are two bonus tracks at the end. The rich sounds of Ireland are still prominent with the holiday tone and lyrics. The songs included in this album are sung by previous singers as they have released two other Christmas albums back in 2006 and 2012 along with the current members: Susan, Mairead, Eabha and newest member Tara playing the violin and fiddle.

The first song of the album is “Ding Dong Merrily On High” and this brings out your holiday cheer, even if you still feel like the Grinch has wedged itself in between the depths of your heart, this will make you happy! One of the reasons why I love Celtic Woman so much is because they have such gentle voices, they sound very caring and want you to feel at home and exited for Christmas. The Irish tones are very subdued in this song, but I found that to be okay, because I liked the voices of the singers and choir. Second is “Carol Of The Bells” and this is just gorgeous! Everybody is very familiar of this song, or at least they should be, but I love this version as you more of a modern feel to it, but it has that mysterious atmosphere to it. I love the fiddle in this, I think it adds another element to it than just the choir singing behind it.

Next is “Joy To The World” and this is the 2016 version which features all three current singers, and since I’ve already talked about this one, I’m not going to bother talking about it again. So if you’d like to know what I said about that, you can read my review of their newest album here. We have “We Three Kings” and this one you definitely get a strong Irish sound from start to end. I was very happy to see this style shine, but I will say though, I don’t think I’ve heard of the song itself, just shows you how much Christmas music I normally listen to once December rolls in.  And then, we have “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas,” and we’re back on the familiar track! I’m happy to say that this was as beautiful as I remembered it, as it’s all a cappella in the beginning before the subtle little violin just shows up in the background. It’s so gentle and nice. It’s just perfect.

Another favorite is “O Holy Night” and I’ve come to love these slower songs, with the right singers, they can sound really amazing and add a wow factor to the whole thing. It’s weird that there are three singers when it sounds like one person is singing it. It’s so beautiful! Next we have “White Christmas” and I really love Christmas music that has a strong piano introduction. You can blame my papaw for installing that feature into me and basically every other family member on my mom’s side. The eighth song is “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town” and it is so pretty, full of symphony and a little of fiddle. I’m pretty sure it is originally on one of their older albums, but that is definitely Susan’s voice I’m hearing! I can recognize her voice anywhere!

We have “I’ll Be Coming Home For Christmas” and everytime I hear it, makes me think about those videos of soldiers surprising their family members. They’re so sweet but of course you can’t help but start bawling your eyes out when everything unfolds on screen, especially if it involves children! This has more of an Irish vibe in the beginning, but I love the slowness of it. It’s so beautiful! I’ll always have a soft spot for “Silent Night” but Celtic Woman’s version incorporates both the English and Gaelic languages and it’s so gorgeous! This was one that they included in “Voice of Angels” album, so if you want to know what I thought of it, please go to the link I’ve put up above. And next we have “The Christmas Song” and I love the piano in the introduction. It had a modern feel, but so gentle. I don’t think I’ve heard of this song before, but like I said, I don’t know a lot of Christmas songs, only everybody’s favorites.

Somehow, we managed to switch out of the gentle and Irish sounding, and move to big band and jazz for “Let It Snow” and it literally freaked me out because I was not expecting it! Of course, the more I listened to it, made me think of New York City and Broadway shows! However, I don’t hate it. It’s actually nice. The next is “Once In Royal David’s City” and this is the third holiday song included on Celtic Woman’s previous album, because I can clearly hear both Mairead and Eahba singing, so again please direct yourself back to the link, if you wish to read my thoughts. Next we have “Away In A Manger” and it starts as a capella with a light harp, which is my second favorite instrument by the way! I also love the guitar, that I always think of a Spanish, because it just brings out that sound that you only hear in latin songs. I’m sorry I don’t know more about it.

 “Winter Wonderland” now at first, I will admit, I didn’t recognize the title. It wasn’t until it started playing and then I finally got it. This has a soft jazz vibe to it. I like the upbeat songs, and apparently the upbeat Christmas songs are becoming a favorite of mine too! Next we have “Walking In The Air” and again, this was another I didn’t know right off the bat, but it is very pretty. It has a very eternal sound in the beginning, which for a Celtic musical group, the music usually has that sound that makes it mysterious but gentle at the same time. Although, this doesn’t sound anything like a regular Christmas or holiday song I’ve heard before, but who am I to say anything about that? It is gorgeous though!

These will be the last four songs of the album. We have “O Come All Ye Faithful” and I like gentleness that the ladies give it. The music behind it is so soft and makes me think of ballets (I know, that’s weird) but it’s true! I don’t necessarily like the hymns very much, but when it comes to the holidays for some odd reason I kind of welcome them with feet wide open!  Next there’s “The Little Drummer Boy” and this is one that I haven’t heard very much, even though it’s a favorite to people. I do like this version with the deep male choir and the soft drums, but unfortunately that’s all I really like about it. I’m very hard to impress sometimes. “We Wish You A Merry Christmas” and I know everybody knows this one and I’m happy to say that it is very upbeat but it also has that Irish sound that I fell in love with in the first place. It’s a nice mixture! And lastly we have “Auld Lang Syne” and according to Google, translates to “days/times gone by”. It is Scottish song and that means that you will hear both the English and Gaelic languages, and I love it because I’ve never heard of it before doing this review.

So the first Christmas album is done! I actually figured I’d hear the Irish music being incorporated more, but then again I can’t say I was disappointed with it though. It was a good balance with the more modern, pop feel with some of the Gaelic language in it. It was different and I love it for being that way!

Have you listened to Celtic Woman’s “The Best of Christmas” album yet? What were your thoughts about it? Do you have a favorite holiday song?

snowflake

 

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3 thoughts on “Album Review: “The Best Of Christmas” by Celtic Woman

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