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No Masters NMCD43

Fed up with Slade, The Wombles and Bing Crosby at this time of year? They all have their place, but here's a good alternative for you. This is not your usual Christmas CD. Yes, it contains carols sung a cappella with lovely vocals and choral harmonies, but it also has a smattering of 'different' content and moods with a few surprises thrown in - music hall style comedic songs, instrumental pieces in the Christmas vein and even the great Tom Lehrer's A Christmas Carol – his cynical alternative take on the commercialism of the Christmas season.

As you might expect from this bunch of seasoned singers and musicians, the presentation is top notch. Their voices blend perfectly into a cohesive whole in the a cappella pieces and the underlying accompaniment and arrangements, where included, are sensitive and appropriate.

Of the 15 tracks on the CD, roughly half are unaccompanied. The songs range from the uplifting to the comical to the thought provoking. Many of the carols have either been newly penned or have new lyrics set to traditional tunes or indeed new tunes set to traditional lyrics but, in essence, they still sound like they have been around for a long time!

Highlight? Tis Now The Season Of The Year by Shelly Posen. Another alternative a cappella take on Christmas, woven together from three different perspectives. A very clever arrangement – three songs in one!

This makes a nicely different addition to the yuletide collection – it's going on to my iTunes player for December anyway. Merry Christmas!

Jim Byrne

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The Listening Post is the CD mailorder service of The Living Tradition magazine.
This album was reviewed in Issue 105 of The Living Tradition magazine.