This CD is unlike most typical folk albums you'll find reviewed on the FAME website. This album is by accomplished Broadway performer D.C. Anderson. Among his many stage credits, perhaps his most famous roles have been in Phantom of the Opera for the last 14 years. all is calm, all is bright is in the spirit of these Broadway performances.
Anderson has a very soft, yet strong Broadway sound, unlike many of the more traditional contemporary folk musicians, who sound sandpapery rough. This professional sound may turn some off at first listen, but it doesn't take too many songs before you are lured into the high quality of the performances. The album is also sparsely instrumented, allowing Anderson's vocals to be front and center in the sonic mix. One place where more instrumentation is welcome is Silent Night, which appeared previously on the album Cabaret Noel: A Broadway Cares Christmas. Usually, I find this song difficult to listen to because the arrangement is too simple and the performance lackluster. Anderson's performance rises above the mediocrity usually found on other recordings, incorporating additional background vocals, guitar, and oboe. This is the kind of professionalism that pervades the album and makes listening such a treat.
The album opens with Jane Siberry's Are You Burning, Little Candle. The next two songs are rare gems from Broadway. The first is Sondheim's Three Wishes for Christmas, which was written for the musical Gypsy, but cut from the final production. The second is Sondheim and Rodgers's Christmas Island at Christmas Time, which appears here for the first ever recording. Later on the album, Kander and Ebb's I'm Gonna Be an Angel appears. Folk-songwriter David Buskin's song The Rest of the Year is included, as well.
Dickens Carolers is a humorous look at the season holiday to break up the seriousness of the rest of the album. Other funny songs include the whistling tune Up on a Mayberry Housetop and The UPS Bell Carol, sung to The Carol of the Bells. A few songs have the lyrics written by Anderson, with musical partner Steve Landau, including Hands and Department Stores Mean Chistmas to Me.
If you were to get a copy of this album, Anderson recommends the following treatment: "If I had my druthers (wouldn't that be a welcome holiday gift---one's very own druthers!), you'd listen to it in an overstuffed chair, all quiet and cozy, in front of a fire."
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