Sixpence None the Richer

The Dawn of Grace - 2008

Tracks: 1. Angels We Have Heard on High / 2. The Last Christmas / 3. O Come, O Come Emmanuel / 4. Silent Night / 5. Riu, Riu, Riu / 6. Carol of the Bells / 7. Christmas Island / 8. River / 9. Christmas for Two / 10. Some Children See Him


Usually Christmas albums don't do much for me. Often the most songs sound uninspired and halfhearted. Though I am a big of Sixpence, my hopes for the album were not very high. I did know "Angels We Have Heard on High" from the band's Myspace site, and I found their version very original and beautiful - but a whole album . . .

Matt Slocum wrote the second track "The Last Christmas", and it's a great song, like most of his, and it does not sound very much like a Christmas song anyway.

Next two tracks are traditionals; though not quite as good as "Angels" "O Come, O Come Emmanuel" - an acoustic guitar up front and Leigh Nash's beautiful vocals give the song the crunchy sound that characterize many of SNTR's finest recordings.

"Silent Night" must have been recorded thousands of times, and who would would need one more version; sounds like a project bound to fail - but the band proves this to be wrong. Acoustic guitars upfront like on "Emmanuel", but what makes a difference in this case is that it turns out to be a duet between Nash and Dan Haseltine of Jars of Clay. This works great - a little like Simon and Garfunkel's "Six O'Clock News".

"Riu Riu Chiu", sung in Spanish, is nice, but one of the more forgettable tracks; "Carol of the Bells" continues in the same vein. Nice but nothing more. The Schmaltzy "Christmas Island" is simply not my cup of tea - might have worked for Mama Cass - the weakest track on the album.

"River", which apart from the brief "Jingle Bells" line doesn't sound like a Christmas tune at all. The song is a sad moving highlight on the album, which generally has a very light and bright atmosphere. The song was written by Joni Mitchell.

Not quite in the same league is Leigh Nash's "Christmas For Two" - but quite nice anyway. Closing track is the relative obscure Christmas carol "Some Children See Him", written by Alfred Burt in the 1950's. The song is nicely performed, but really not very interesting. Though the album as a whole has its flaws, it is still the finest original Christmas album I can think of - and a very nice addition to your Sixpence None the Richers record collection. At least half of it is really great

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