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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Diane Arkenstone & Misha Segal

Christmas Healing Volume 2

Review by Gary Hill

For those of us who celebrate Christmas, the right music is important. Diane Arkenstone and Misha Segal have given us three (or one if you buy it as a set) new releases that provide some excellent sounds for your holiday. Gentle and fairly traditional, the music may not break any exponentially new territory, but it’s pretty nonetheless and perfect for background sounds for your special celebration. While the purchase of any one of these discs by themselves would be good, they give you a really good deal when you buy the set. For more information (or to make your purchase), check out the website.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2007 Volume 6 and Music Street Journal the Holiday Edition at lulu.com/strangesound.
Track by Track Review
Away in a Manger
With a gentle and pretty folk music styled approach, this is a nice rendition of the holiday classic.
Deck the Halls
This has a more playful approach and the paired vocals work well. It’s a “home for the holidays” sort of motif – assuming your relatives are all talented musicians, that is.
What Child is This
I love this song in just about any configuration, but this sedate yet powerful mode works quite well. This probably isn’t my all time favorite rendering, but it’s definitely one that would be among my top picks.
O Little Town of Bethlehem
With a gentle, acoustic guitar telling of this classic, it’s pretty and quite effective. It’s a great piece for sitting around the fireplace sipping hot cocoa.
We Three Kings
While the early segments of this are not all that different than the rest of the CD, the instrumental section is especially pretty and poignant. I also really love the gentle vocals in the closing chorus.
O Holy Night
Nearly an instrumental (there are some non-lyrical vocals), this is a very powerful and lush piece of music. It’s one of my favorites on the disc.
The Holly and the Ivy
A true instrumental, this one is quite gentle and very pretty.
Hark! The Herald Angels Sing
Another instrumental, this one seems to be more centered around a folk music meets classical motif. It’s yet a further high point in the disc.
O Come, All Ye Faithful
In a true showing of their understanding of the importance of keeping things from getting to monolithic, they end the instrumental tunes with this fairly traditional telling of the holiday classic.
Little Drummer Boy
Musically this one reminds me a bit of something from the Vince Guaraldi Charlie Brown Christmas. It’s based primarily around piano and acoustic guitar and is a gentle balladic instrumental rendition. Non-lyrical vocals are introduced late in the piece. It’s a nice way to close the disc and captures the mood of the song quite well.
 
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