Review: Have an Inventive Christmas - Janelle Nadeau - Star of Night (Independent, November 30, 2017)

Have an Inventive Christmas
Janelle Nadeau - Star of Night
(Independent, November 30, 2017)

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Janelle Nadeau's Star of Night is a Christmas album for those of us who may not actually want a holiday album...or maybe who already have enough of the traditional stuff. With its spare instrumentation of harp, guitar, and vocals, she manages to breathe brand new life into songs you thought you knew inside out.

The combination of harp and guitar in the arrangement of We Three Kings creates a moody and atmospheric vibe with a strong rhythmic pulse. The beloved carol is barely recognizable in parts when it veers into what sounds like improvisation over the chord structure. It's a very effective way of turning the classic song into a fresh exploration.

In Silent Night, she mines unusual harmonies between the two instruments to create new dimensions to the time honoured Christmas carol. She adds her clear, high vocals to God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen, with a multi-dimensional harp and guitar accompaniment that add dramatic tensions you won't remember in the original.

Her strategy of adding unexpected chord changes and playing the instruments off against each other works wonders in terms of invigorating those old chestnuts.

Peace On Earth is a remake of the U2 single, the only non-Christmas carol on the release.

Janelle is based in Vancouver, British Columbia where she is acting principle harpist with the Vancouver Opera Orchestra. She regularly performs with Vancouver's Turning Point Ensemble, and keeps a busy performing schedule as well as teaching.

Her innovative approach to playing has not gone unnoticed by the music industry at large. Janelle has taken the stage with everyone from Diana Krall and Kanye West to the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, and she spent a decade touring across Western Canada with the acclaimed Celtic, medieval and classical music group Winter Harp.

In 2016, Janelle began a new holiday tradition and founded the Nadeau Ensemble. Their inaugural Prairie Christmas tour was launched last year, and the new recording builds on that success.

Janelle was born in a small town in rural Manitoba where she still returns home during the summers to work on her family's farm. Her belief in the healing power of music has led to working with Health Arts Society.She has performed more than 300 solo concerts in hospitals and palliative care homes.

If you are fond of traditional Christmas music - and if you are not - Nadeau's fresh take plumbs new depths of emotion and mood in this highly recommended release.

Track List:
1. O come, O come Emmanuel
2. Huron Carol
3. It Came Upon A Midnight Clear
4. What Child Is This
5. We Three Kings
6. Silent Night
7. God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen
8. Do You Hear What I Hear
9. O Come All Ye Faithful
10. Peace on Earth

Janelle Nadeau: Harp and Vocals
Stephen Fisk: Guitar and Vocals
Ian Mackie: Percussion

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