Carol Noonan possesses one of the greatest voices on the contemporary music scene. Like all things great, her gift defies every attempt to define and describe it. Ethereal, haunting, magical, powerful and moving are all adjectives that fit. But best of all worlds is to hear her sing.
Noonan's new recording, Christmas, provides both the well-established fan and the new listener alike with some of her best work. The eleven tracks include a selection of well-loved holiday classics as well as three original songs written by Noonan for this project.The opening track pairs a gorgeous O Come, O Come, Emmanuel with the traditional carol What Child is This? Noonan's lead vocals are backed by several tracks of her voice overlaying one another to beautiful effect. The guitar tracks by ace guitarists Kevin Barry and Duke Levine lend just the right amount of support. Levine's solo on electric guitar, a surprisingly soft and subtle sound, is perfect.
I Wonder as I Wander features Noonan's soaring vocals along with the otherworldly sound of Frank Gallagher's Irish whistles and viola. This song, like the best Christmas songs, relates the feelings of the singer as she reflects on the awe and wonder of the holiday.
The recording contains three Noonan originals, the first of which is Christmas of '64, which tells of the childhood wish for a first guitar...a dream come true. Two Hours to Maine describes the longing to be back home with the one you love on Christmas Eve. The warm tone of Tom West's Hammond organ evokes images of home and security. The best of the Noonan originals is Christmas is Here, a poignant and personal reflection on the dad she remembers from Christmases past. With Tommy Makem, coffee, and a cigarette, Noonan's lyrics and lovely melody evoke memories of our own.
O Holy Night, as Noonan sings it, will send shivers of pleasure up and down your spine. The upper register of her voice is a thing of beauty. The layering of Noonan's vocals to create a round on "I Saw Three Ships" is a treat to listen to. And finally, Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, recorded in front of a live audience, brings the beauty of both the holiday and Noonan's voice home.
There has always been something very special about Carol Noonan. When she sings you feel transported by the sheer beauty and power of her voice. Bringing that voice and the best tunes of the Christmas season together in one package is unforgettable. This is the best Christmas CD I have heard in years, and one of Noonan's best recordings. It won't leave your player this holiday season and beyond. Bravo! And...happy holidays!
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