A delicious warm drink. The smell of wonderful food and deserts. A roaring fire. The laughter of family and friends. These are the images that are conjured in my mind when I think of the holidays. Likewise, these are also the images that come to mind when I listen to Merry Mischief’s new CD Christmas Presence. Yet, perhaps what makes me love this album even more is that while most of the songs are familiar holiday favorites, they are not the songs that are overplayed on the radio and in every store – which makes them that much more of a joy to listen to in my book.
For instance, their version of “Here We Come a-Wassailing,” “The Holly & The Ivy,” and “The Boar's Head Carol” will make you smile with pleasure and want to sing along. Furthermore, in all these tracks, the wonderful harmonies of these two fine musicians play center stage and aren’t distracted by over production. Therefore, their tenor and alto voices are allowed to blend beautifully and really convey the emotional intention of the song. Perhaps, the clearest example of this would be with “O Holy Night.” The song masterfully creates this mood of peacefulness and awe.
Other songs I find myself repeatedly going to again and again are “Children Go Where I Send Thee,” “God Rest Ye Merry Gentleman,” “Christmas is Coming” and, yes, their fun filled rendition of “Jingle Bells.” However, the two stars of the show are the tracks “Maid of Bedlam” and “Miriam.” While they are, perhaps, the two least well known songs on the CD they won’t be for long. “Maid of Bedlam” is a superb collaboration between Merry Mischief and the Harper and the Minstrel, another fabulous duo. It is a song of unwavering love and eventual reunion. The harp and flute meld beautifully with the finger picking of the guitar and the harmonies of Merlyn and Abby’s singing. Moreover, the harp especially gives that strong sensation of longing that is at the heart of the song. Finally, “Miriam” is a song that celebrates the wonder of Mary and the birth of the Godchild; which is at the heart of so many traditions. Their version of this song truly manages to capture the joy and marvel of this miracle.
Overall, there are twenty-one tracks on this album. Some are spiritual and some are secular but all are brilliant to listen too. However, don’t take my word for it. Buy this album yourself, and I can guarantee it will immediately become of your holiday favorites, just as it has become mine.
Stephen Mc Sweeney is a high school English/Drama teacher. Besides writing for the Celtic MP3s Music Magazine, he enjoys acting, writing and playing Celtic music. He can be seen as one of the members of the band Terrible Musicians, where he plays percussion and mandolin.