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Christmas Carols Old and New 
Artist: David Edwards 
Label: Jondeaux Records (VOG29J1218136) 
Length: 45 minutes 

Christmas Carols Old and New has eleven Christmas songs, two that are contemporary, in an easy listening collection for relaxing time during the holidays. 

David Edwards has a Barry Manilow-easy listening voice that rarely changes during this holiday CD.  His phrasing is complete without chopping up a musical thought, but the style is relaxed and laid-back.  Edwards is best on songs such as "The World Was In His Hands," written by Edwards and Randy Stonehill, or "Miriam" by Pierce Pettis (1996).  He comes to life here and one wishes this were true for the entire CD. 

"The World Was In His Hands" (written by David Edwards and Randy Stonehill, 2001) has beautiful lyrics with this repeating refrain, "To see him there, so small and sweet, with tiny hands and tender feet, what if you were told this child would hold the world within his hands?" Edwards voice caresses the lyrics and brings poignancy to a world that could not imagine the changes a babe could make.  The uncomplicated accompaniment brings emphasis to the words. 

"Miriam" is treated the same way.  Program notes tell us that "Miriam" is the Hebrew form of "Mary."  The end phrase of "No banners were unfurled when God stepped into the world, held in the arms of a little girl named Miriam" is brought to life by Edwards with accompaniment in a slower, calypso-type beat.  This particular song is placed two-thirds of the way through the CD and would wake one up at this point. 

The rest of the songs on the Christmas CD are old carols that people are familiar with.  There is 'The First Nowell", sung as a ballad.  This is a change in pace, for the carol is usually sung loud enough to rouse a congregation. However, the rest of the carols are done the same way---same beat---same accompaniment.  "It Came Upon A Midnight Clear," again, usually a louder carol, is sung in an easy style, as are "Away In a Manger," "What Child Is This," "I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day," "O Come All Ye Faithful," and "Oh, Holy Night." 

It is at the end of the CD, on "Silent Night" and the Bach-Gounod "Ave Maria" that David Edwards finally hits his stride.  His style is just right for the simple truth of "Silent Night," which was first done in a small Austrian church with guitar accompaniment, as Edwards uses here.  The "Ave Maria" is beautifully done with the Latin words coming through clearly and a wonderfully long complete phrase at the end. 

According to the program notes, ten percent of the gross proceeds of this project will be donated to the NewYork City/Washington DC Relief Fund of Compassion International. 

Copyright 2001 Marie Asner 
Submitted 11/23/2001 

In a fair world, this Christmas album would be on a major label, getting tons of promotion.  This is the Christmas record for all of those people who have been worn out by the various hip-hop, dance, rock, and pop Christmas records, and long for something more reverent.

David Edwards is no stranger to the world of music.  He released three albums in the early 80s, and has been associated with the likes of Randy Stonehill.  Where his earlier albums had more of a new-wave edge to them, Edwards has moved on with the times.

This album sounds like a Christmas album.  The arrangements are thoughtful, pretty without being overwrought, and simple without being simplistic. There is enough modernness to the music to make it definitely a modern album, but without letting the music overwhelm the message of Christmas. Even the newer songs end up being part of the harmonious whole, rather than something out of line with the classic carols.

In that way, there's nothing terribly remarkable about this album. Edwards' voice is pleasant, but not really distinctive.  It fits the musical package well, in that way.

This disc is not one which screams out for special recognition as being something exciting, new and a complete departure from the past.  But somehow I think that's exactly the point that Edwards is trying to make.  The best Christmas music is timeless, and there's no point in tinkering with a good thing.  For that reason alone I prefer this Christmas album to most I have heard in the last few years.

Alex Klages 12/16/2001

 

   
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