THE IDEA OF Tori Amos doing a holiday album is certainly a bizarre one, even when you take into account that her father was a Methodist minister and so she grew up with Christmas carols.
"Midwinter Graces" is not a collection of upbeat, "Joy to the World"-esque celebrations, though. Instead, Amos re-interprets traditional songs and writes a few of her own.
Original holiday tunes are rarely a good idea, but it's those re-interpretations that are risky business. On album-opener "What Child, Nowell," Amos blends together bits of "What Child Is This" and "The First Noel," creating a Christmas mash-up that sounds disjointed and scattered.
On other songs, she drops traditional melodies into original songs — "Harps of Gold's" choruses of "Gloria in excelsis deo" are particularly egregious.
The result is scattered, and some of the best moments on these songs have nothing to do with either her original bits or the covers:
"Holly, Ivy and Rose" is a dreadful mash-up of "Lo, how a Rose e'er Blooming" and "The Holly and the Ivy," but several verses become charming duets between Amos and her daughter Natashya. Adding a child's voice to a holiday song is usually a fast road to sentimental pap, but this particular duet is striking — despite the pieced-together song combination.
In her defense, Amos does well here what she always does well: she creates a somber mood with her perpetually-solemn tone and crackling voice. One of the highlights here is the glacially-paced snippet of "O Come O Come Emmanuel" which opens and closes her song "Emmanuel." It's a carol whose bleak atmosphere is magnified by Amos's style, and if a holiday album were a truly necessary form of her artistic expression, this is how she could have done it in a more palatable form.
Ultimately, "Midwinter" falters not because the idea of Amos doing Christmas songs is weird — there are enough entrancing excerpts here that show that she can really enhance the right choice of holiday song. Instead, her choice to blend covers of traditional songs into originals leaves behind a whole slew of original lyrics that add little to the traditional tunes she's paired them with.
Far be it for this critic to dictate how Amos should celebrate her holidays, but her mash-up approach has detracted from the holiday carols that she claims to be celebrating, leaving them seeming a bit disposable.
Probably not exactly what she had in mind.
Written by Express contributor Catherine Lewis
Fonte: @forumz e Express Night Out.