Customer Reviews: Come Darkness Come Light: Twelve Songs of Christmas
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on October 1, 2008
All I can say is, WOW. This is one fantastic album.

First and foremost, this is a Mary Chapin Carpenter album, not a Christmas album. While the theme of the songs may be Christmas and holiday, it's an album I'll be listening to year 'round.

One of the great things about this album is that the majority of the material is not what you'd call "traditional" Christmas songs. Only three of the songs fall into the "traditional" category -- "Once In Royal David's City," "Still, Still, Still" and "Children, Go Where I Send Thee." And I can't name very many albums by popular artists that have included any of these three songs.

The rest of the material is "new" (meaning original songs written in the last couple of decades). Tommy Thompson's "Hot Buttered Rum" and Robin & Linda Williams' "On a Quiet Christmas Morn" are two of these "new" songs. Most of the rest of the songs were written by Mary Chapin Carpenter herself ("Christmas Time In the City" and "Bells Are Ringing" were co-written by MCC with John Jennings).

For me, the most fascinating inclusion on this album is John Rutter's "Candlelight Carol." I know this as a choral piece, and it's one of John Rutter's most melodic choral pieces. Mary Chapin Carpenter's version is simply superb, driving the duple meter while keeping the lullaby feel of the song.

Most MCC fans will recognize "Christmas Time In the City" and "Bells Are Ringing" -- both were previously released on various-artist Christmas compilations. But the versions on this CD are entirely new -- new acoustic arrangements, new vocals, and, in the case of "Christmas Time In the City," some new lyrics.

As far as the production of this album, this is bare-bones Mary Chapin Carpenter. She herself handles the vocals and some acoustic guitar, and John Jennings and Jon Carroll provide all the other instrumentation. That's it. Mary Chapin Carpenter even did the photography for the CD booklet, all photos of her own farm. The sum of this is an album that feels like a very personal Christmas gift, created especially for you.

So to all you Mary Chapin Carpenter fans out there, to all you who like Christmas music, to anyone who likes singer-songwriters of any sort: BUY THIS CD! Even if you don't like Christmas music, you'll like this album. Trust me. Not a "Silent Night" or "White Christmas" in sight!

All that being said, if you go to iTunes, you can download a bonus track -- a "traditional" Christmas song, nonetheless. "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" is available there as the thirteenth song of Christmas. Thankfully, it's available to download as an individual track, so you don't have to download the whole album to get that one song. It's a lovely performance, and I'm glad I have it, but I'm also glad they chose not to include it on the CD, as it just doesn't fit...
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on October 6, 2008
As I grew up, my siblings and I would eagerly anticipate Thanksgiving, knowing that on the way home from my grandparent's house, my dad would finally let us listen to Christmas music. Growing up in a Christian home with a definitive country flair, our favorite Christmas albums were sung by Alabama and Amy Grant. And now, as I am listening to the album tonight, in early October, I am immediately transported back in time. It feels like December 24th.

I've always been a fan of Mary Chapin Carpenter, but it was always for her uptempo fun pieces. Lately, though, I've been more appreciative of her "chill" factor. I highly recommend this CD! It's definitely not a get up and dance to celebrate Christmas album, but it is certainly a contemplative chill way to celebrate the holiday. The arrangements perfectly compliment her lush, raspy alto -- whether the songs are brand new or tried and true traditional.

Hope this helps!
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on November 7, 2008
So many vocalists tend to fulfill their recording contract obligations with bland or over the top holiday albums that end up in the recycling bin, but this cd is truly a gift of love from Mary Chapin Carpenter. You will find no rehashed versions of "Joy to the World", or "Little Drummer Boy", or no political bended songs which might be expected in a Chapin cd. What MCC delivers are wonderful interpretations of lesser known traditional songs and solid vocalizations of her own songs and contemporaries. The arrangements are light and Chapin"s vocals examine her rich alto. Jon Carrol's magnificent piano, John Jennings talented guitar stylings and other instruments, coupled with the Chapin vocals make this so much more than a Christmas album. This one has lifted my spirits during some bleak weeks, and I am grateful for that.
Highlights are the traditional' "Still, Still, Still," the contemplative "Thanksgiving Song" and MCC original "Christmas Carol" The title track" "Come Darkness, Come Light" and the Robin and Linda Williams song, "On A Quiet Christmas Morn". are my absolute favorites. There is something about this cd that reminds me of the soothing simplicity of Chapin's first cd ,Hometown Girl that is strangely familiar and comforting. I love this album. Give this one as a Thanksgiving gift. Your friends will appreciate the kind gesture.
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on October 27, 2008
When I heard, earlier this year, that MCC was putting together a Christmas album, I made a mental note to look for it later. I'm a big fan of her work, and this album doesn't disappoint.

As another reviewer noted, this is first and foremost a Mary Chapin Carpenter album. If you're looking for Jingle Bells and Rudolph, keep looking; this is probably not the album for you. If, however, you are looking for something a little different, give this a listen. Soulful and reverent, warm and comforting, some of these songs bring tears to my eyes and give me goosebumps. I cannot recommend it highly enough.
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VINE VOICEon September 30, 2008
This is obviously a labor of love, from MCC's own photographs of her New England farm, to the simple, heartfelt lyrics - both the original songs and the classics, to her elegant voice and arrangements. Lovely.
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on October 7, 2008
Mary Chapin Carpenter is the best artist that I've ever heard. I've been listening to her since I was a little kid. Her music inspires people and her music/lyrics can reach deep into your soul without even trying. This album is beautiful. The only thing I was a little upst with is that depending on where you buy the album, three bonus tracks include her version of Silent Night, Little Drummer Boy and Have yourself a Merry Little Chritmas. Unfortunatly I already downloaded the songs from Amazon and those bonus tracks are not available.
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on November 23, 2008
A beautiful set of tunes. A wonderful journey; emotionally rich and musically refreshing, this is definitely "Twelve Songs of Christmas," not "The Twelve Songs of Christmas;" as in 'another rehash of the same old over-done songs that show up on so many Holiday albums.' Carpenter wrote or co-wrote 6 of the 12 songs on the collection, and the others are either obscure traditional tunes or more contemporary compositions (i.e., one is a carol by John Rutter!). Taken together, they create a quiet sense of the solitude indicative of this the wonderful season, full of references to sacred themes and secular motifs, woven together in a way that speaks to the beauty of the season of the long nights. [She actually has a song on the CD acknowledging "The Longest Night of the Year."] Buy this one on CD, too, not as a download, as the booklet contains photography that complements the music; dark, quiet and snowy landscapes. Reading the lyrics as I listen to the set is amplified by the images against which the printed words are set. This CD is going to be with me for a long time. I recommend it highly.
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on November 4, 2008
This is a truly wonderful, enchanting record. The music is following the style MCC set before on the albums "Between Here and There" and "The Calling". Her voice is just perfect for these songs. The lyrics of Mary's own songs are very personal and sometimes with slight critical reminders what christmas is really about, apart from all the commercial trash. I just love it!!!
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on October 28, 2008
This is the best music I have heard from Mary Chapin Carpenter in a long time. She renders each song with heartfelt simplicity. I find this CD to be truly elegant.
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on September 30, 2008
The songs are a perfect mix of old and new. She gives comfort in her voice and word choice.
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