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Thread: Midwinter Graces

  1. #1
    Lyrical acuity and mum-smarts menju56's Avatar
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    Midwinter Graces



    TORI AMOS
    MIDWINTER GRACES

    (UNIVERSAL REPUBLIC)
    Released: November 2009
    Chart: UK No.97 / US No.66

    • What Child, Nowell
    • Star of Wonder
    • A Silent Night With You
    • Candle: Coventry Carol
    • Holly, Ivy and Rose
    • Harps of Gold
    • Snow Angel
    • Jeanette, Isabella
    • Pink and Glitter
    • Emmanuel
    • Winter's Carol
    • Our New Year


    Bonus tracks:
    • Comfort and Joy
    • Stille Nacht! Heilige Nacht (Silent Night)
    • Good King Wenceslas


    Being brought up as a minister’s daughter, this stuff gets hammered into you. It’s part of a language of growing up. You just know hymns, no different than if you grow up in a family where both parents are chefs. You’re exposed to certain things — a palette.

    Doug [Morris] talked to me about the idea that so many records are made just upholding arrangements that get passed down. But where do these songs come from? I was driven to think, “Well, wait a minute. If I’m going to do this then I’m part of a tradition and that tradition is variations on the theme.” For example, in Britain, “Away in a Manger” is a completely different melody than the “Away in a Manger” that we grew up singing. The reason for some of this is because as denominations were spreading across the Atlantic — Methodism and all kinds of things — churches would want to have their own tunes, to separate themselves from other denominations. You’ve got to work pretty fast to start pulling together carols and hymns if you don’t have great composers at your beck and call, and familiarity also plays a part. So they would sometimes use words that people knew and then put tunes from other sources. For instance, “What Child Is This” is from “Greensleeves.” Can you imagine writing a religious tune to “Billie Jean”? “Jesus is the Son,” instead of “the kid is not my son.” So the Brits didn’t embrace “What Child Is This” because “Greensleeves” has been a folk song for them for hundreds of years. It was sort of bastardized in their minds by this hijacking.

    I use hijacking intentionally because there’s a tradition of songs coming from different sources. Sea shanties — a lot of early hymns come from folk songs. The words would change, and maybe a little bit of the melody, to make it a religious song, because it was a hit and people could sing it. That really fascinated me.


    ____

  2. #2
    Senior Member pancakefrompele's Avatar
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    Last edited by pancakefrompele; 06-18-2010 at 06:10 PM.

  3. #3
    Let them eat cake! Yuki's Avatar
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    I don't really listen to MWG these days (probably cause it's the middle of June), but I still think it holds up pretty well! Sure there were missteps (the occasional baby vocals, Harps of Gold, the COVER) but the end product is still pretty beautiful. After years and years of strange (and, imho, failed) experiments with different genres and pretentious concepts, this simple, twelve-song collection was a breath of fresh air. She returned to a sound that was authentic to her and it showed.

  4. #4
    Vilest of the vile Homogenik's Avatar
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    but she could have waited for christmas 2010 to release it in my opinion. AATS had JUST been released and not even properly promoted, and this new album just prevented anymore life for it. That's just weird and sad to me, although it's kind of fun to have two albums in a year.

  5. #5
    (...) Fernanda's Avatar
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    I'm completely horrified by it.

  6. #6
    I love this album, I really do. I haven't listened to it this year, though. She really captured the spirit of the season for me, and after one holiday season with it, it's already tied to that time of year--it'd be weird to listen to it now. As a Christmas-loving atheist, it's hard for me to really enjoy a lot of the holiday music out there. Too cheesy, too religious, or simply too banal. Everything she said about it being a "Solstice" record and not a straight-up Christmas album, though some may brush off as Tori speak, was something I think she really meant and achieved beautifully.

    While Harps of Gold turned me off at first, I really warmed up to it in the end. The piano in Snow Angel particularly took me back to many Christmases past--there's this ethereal, nostalgic quality to it that brought tears to my eyes many times. A Silent Night With You (though disliked by many) has a similar effect on me. It's a really sweet, touching love song. I think it also goes without saying that Winter's Carol was immediately placed by many alongside Tori's best work. Holly, Ivy and Rose, Our New Year, Emmanuel, Comfort and Joy (♥!), there really is no song on here I don't love.

    I played it at family gatherings and dinner parties with friends, and it really helped shape a lot of wonderful memories. I look forward to doing the same for years to come.

  7. #7
    Loves ponies. Hates phonies. Regina Phalange's Avatar
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    I like every song on it. Nay, I love them. I too am a non-religious Christmas-music lover. This is already one of my favorite holiday albums, despite the issues that Yuki pointed out. I only listen to Our New Year now. I tried to do the other songs recently, but I just couldn't while I'm wearing shorts and going to BBQs.

  8. #8
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    Vocals are not the best, but the composition is an improvement of the last few records definitely. Good holiday album.

  9. #9
    Senior Member aviv amos's Avatar
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    i haven't listen to this one for a while, but i still think that it's better than AATS and has some great songs. the only main problem i have is with her voice. i hope that she was just tired after recording AATS, cause more albums with those little girl notes, will not be cool.

    oh, and it was nice to hear that she can still make albums with "only" 12 songs.

  10. #10
    I just love Winter's Carol so hard. That's pretty much the extent of my opinion on this album. XD
    "See everything as an illusion, and enjoy it even though you are not of it."
    ~Alanis Morissette, paraphrased

  11. #11
    Senior Member aviv amos's Avatar
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    you know, i didn't really got WINTER'S CAROL at the beginning, but after reading so many positive reviews, I've listen to it a couple more times, and than it hit me.

  12. #12
    Always rocks the Cheeto harder. ChasingTornados's Avatar
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    I don't like Christmas albums. But I love this!

    Listened to it the other day. Still great!

    Winter's Carol, Star of Wonder, Coventry, Our New Year, Pink & Glitter, all awesome! My fave is Holly, Ivy & Rose. I find it more an autumn song for some reason, but i listen to it all the time. It's just awesome

    ok, end lovefest

  13. #13
    Ah. Midwinter Graces. Not one of my favorite albums I'm afraid.

    When it came out I really liked it and thought the vocals were better than on AATS (that was when I hated AATS with a passion). The cover is atrocious, but the inside art isn’t that bad at all.

    Now, even though the album is only 12 songs (14 with bonus tracks) I can barely get halfway through without turning it off. The whole thing seems completely unnecessary. While I still like songs like "Star of Wonder," "Snow Angel," "Winter's Carol" and "Comfort and Joy," I can't say I love any of them. I don't listen to Christmas music at all, and when I hear it, I usually prefer the fun stuff ("Santa baby, coming down the chimney tonight..." lol). I find "Pink and Glitter" to be absolutely atrocious. Her version of "Silent Night, Holy Night" puts me to sleep...I don't think I've ever even listened to it all the way through.

    I don't know. I try to forget this album exists most of the time.

  14. #14
    Senior Member pancakefrompele's Avatar
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    I love the album. It feels like you're being sung to sleep, and I think the baby-talk vocals sort of heighten the motherly vibe of comfort and solace. I'm not sure if that's what Tori was going for, but it does add a layer of warmth, especially when she sings with Tash. When the album was released I put it on my partner's Christmas playlist (like 450 songs, seriously. He's a freak.) At any rate, Silent Night, Holy Night shuffled, and it really held its own compared to some holiday classics and traditional church music (we're Episcopalian. Lots of organ.) I honestly think Tori created a tight, well-polished album.

  15. #15
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    I see this record as a side project. I do like some of the production here and WC is Tori at her best indeed. Her child-like vocals work in places but are mostly a bit annoying.

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