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Falling Snow

4.9 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews

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Audio CD, December 3, 2016
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Editorial Reviews

Review

These are hard albums to pull off. The seasonal music release is a long-time staple of the music industry and most of the examples we can recall are usually nothing more than well-produced cash-in releases not particularly invested in sincerely celebrating the season but rather entertaining those who do. However, The Gothard Sisters, based out of the Pacific Northwest, have a rather different take. Their ten song collection Falling Snow covers a number of standards that any adult music fan will recognize from countless Yuletide seasons gone by as well as a handful of lesser-recognized songs in the same tradition. They tackle the songs with a breadth of musical knowledge that often incorporates unexpected instruments and their interpretations of much of the material have subtle and imaginative variations on what we might expect. This is quite apparent on the opener Hark! The Herald Angels Sing , but not initially. The song begins with a languid, mood setting pace before the sisters spice things up noticeably. The song s second half seems to better embody the joyfulness of the lyrics better than many other interpretations of the material thanks to its exuberance. Some of the album s songs are instrumentals and few of them succeed more than the album s second track Christmas Flower . The sisters, unsurprisingly perhaps, have excellent musical chemistry between them and trade off instrumental lines with a fluidity born of experience and artistic telepathy. Their version of Winter Wonderland is a pure delight. The fluid bass notes anchoring the song give the sisters a firm foundation over which they can weave melodic magic and it manifests itself most clearly in how they alternate the vocals. Solana Gothard takes most of the lead vocal chores in The Gothard Sisters songs, but her sisters Willow and Greta are quite capable backing singers and their performances often alternate between solo and harmony vocals to great effect. Good King Wenceslas is a perfect example of The Gothard Sisters wide musical knowledge. This lesser known Yuletide classic dates to the first half of the 19th century, but its melodic pedigree stretches back even further to the 1500 s. The Gothard Sisters are able to make this relatively obscure song seem every bit as familiar as what we hear in any department store or mall with much more musical credibility. Greta Gothard s stylish guitar playing is a key component in the success of French Carol , but additional instrumentation fleshes it out further. Their take on the eternal Christmas classic God Rest Ye Merry Gentleman has all of the melodic strength we customarily associate with the song while still, thanks to the efforts of The Gothard Sisters and their lyrical violin, possessing a windswept grandeur that we may not normally associate with this song. They pull from a much more modern tradition with their performance of The Happy Elf . It s an outing that gathers more musical magic as it progresses and sweeps listeners along for the melodic ride. Perhaps no other song on Falling Snow best represents this three piece s ability to transform traditional music to their own creative ends like Joy to the World . While many versions of this stalwart Christmas classic often take a reverential air, The Gothard Sisters seem very tuned into embodying the joy referred to in the song title and this is the ebullient result. Joy and sincerity come from every one of these ten songs and it makes Falling Snow one of the most rewarding releases of this Christmas season. --Vents Magazine

The Gothard Sisters are truly a beautiful anomaly in our modern musical world. This Celtic music themed three piece have produced five albums of covers and original material since 2010 and their latest, Falling Snow, is one of the finest examples of well-crafted Christmas album in recent memory. The sisters are top flight musicians who rely on a variety of traditional instrumentation to get their work across with a modern audience and their ever-growing itinerary of more than one hundred and twenty shows a year proves that their unique visual presentation, undeniable musical talents, and command over traditional and original material alike are striking chords with a wide audience. They accomplish none of this through taking shortcuts or pandering to a modern sensibility. Instead, sincerity is their byword. The album s opener is a rendition of Hark! The Herald Angels Sing . It begins in a very atmospheric fashion, coalescing slowly, before it segues into an uptempo pace strongly invoking the Celtic influence in the band s music. All three sisters are capable vocalists, but it is the youngest sister Solana who takes the lead vocal slot, but rather than just possessing an extraordinarily crystalline and beautiful voice, she is a canny singer as well who has clearly mastered the art of singing with the musical backing rather than matching her voice against it. Many of the sister s arrangements follow the originals closely, but they are obviously very capable of bringing added flashes of creativity. The understated beauty of Winter Wonderland comes largely from its stripped back simplicity that helps the performance avoid invoking any of the sentimentality sometimes marring other s renditions of these classic songs. Solana, once again, steers much of the vocals, but her sisters Greta and Willow are valuable backing singers who sing along with seamless chemistry. Good King Wenceslas isn t a song that everyone is familiar with, certainly not an acknowledged standard like many of the other selections on Falling Snow, but it has a compelling vocal melody and the lively interplay between the guitar, violin, and light percussion will entrance many. Greta Gothard s guitar playing has a more pronounced role on French Carol than many of the album s other songs and the instrumental exchanges between the three sisters are particularly striking. God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen succeeds along similar lines thanks to their surefooted and inventive re-arrangement of this standard, but its crowning glory is how well they upend expectations with a handful of unexpected turns they take. Still, Still, Still has enormous delicacy and almost classical slant. The album s production is responsible for much of the atmospherics listeners hear, but it does an equally good job of portraying each of the sisters talents in a balanced fashion. The closer Joy to the World is, naturally, quite familiar and the three piece opts for following it along similar lines, but there s a definite bounce in the step here that many other interpretations lack. Let s not confuse this for a pop or rock album, but The Gothard Sisters bring enormous youthful energy to even the album s slower numbers and it helps make Falling Snow, their latest entry in the long-standing tradition of Christmas albums, one of the most original releases of its ilk in many years. 9 out of 10 stars. --Skope Magazine

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Product details

  • Audio CD (December 3, 2016)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Independent
  • ASIN: B01N2IGUED
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #14,383 in CDs & Vinyl (See Top 100 in CDs & Vinyl)
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