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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Diane Arkenstone & Misha Segal

Christmas Healing Volume 3

Review by Gary Hill

This is the third volume of the Christmas Healing Set by Arkenstone and Segal. As mentioned in the other individual reviews, it’s probably best to just get the whole set as one, but any of these would be great accompaniment to your holiday. Lots of classic tunes done in a very listenable manner – how can you go wrong? 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
The Christmas Song (Chrestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire)
I really think that the arrangement on this one is beautiful. In fact, I’d have to chalk this up as one of (if not the) prettiest and most effective cut across the whole set of three discs. The instrumental section on this is especially strong.
Winter Wonderland
Bouncy and fun, this rendition is gentle and very pretty. The playful instrumental section, with its jazz structures, is a nice touch.
Silver Bells
If they miss on anything on this set (and that’s debatable) it would be this track. For my money you really need a full scale arrangement to capture this track. What we have here is a stripped down and extremely sedate rendition. It’s pretty, but just feels a bit lacking in my book.
Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!
The gentle jazz arrangement on this one is great. The track serves as an excellent way to get things back on track from the slight misstep of the previous number. The acoustic guitar solo is tasty.
Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas
Male vocals (a definite change up) open this track. The number is delivered in an acoustic guitar based balladic fashion. It’s a good duet and one of the most effective pieces on show here.
Santa Claus is Coming to Town
Bouncy and playful, this is an effective little dittie. It’s a pretty appropriate telling of the holiday classic.
Do You Hear What I Hear?
Here is a track where they went out of their way to get everything right. The musical arrangement is perfection! It captures the spirit and power of this piece of music, while still maintaining their trademark mellow approach. I suppose there are those who would say that it should have had vocals (yes, this is an instrumental), but personally I find that it works so well with the instruments taking the vocal lines that I think I like it better this way. Besides, anyone who would be listening to this disc probably already knows all the lyrics.
Jingle Bells
This might not be the most obvious way to do this classic, but I think it works quite well. They give us a gentle instrumental that flirts at times with dissonance. I get a bit of a “music box” vibe off of the number at times, but we also get jazz elements at other points. It’s another highlight of the disc – and possibly the whole three CD set.
Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer
When the guitar kicks this off, I’m reminded for some reason of Arlo Guthrie’s “Alice’s Restaurant.” We get a playful, folky sort of treatment. The trading of lines between guitar and piano on the instrumental section works quite well. This tune is a nice addition to the disc and another standout.
White Christmas
We get a pretty (and rather traditional) telling of this classic. After the experimentation of the last few tracks it’s a good way to bring it home for the conclusion of the CD, and indeed the whole set. It’s a satisfying ending.
 
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