Tori Amos—Midwinter Graces
Tori Amos—vocals, piano, harpsichord, Wurlitzer
Matt Chamberlain—drums, percussion, bells
John Philip Shenale—synths & samplers, string, brass arrangements, conducting
Kelsey Dobyns—guest vocal (4)
Bruce Burchmore—lute (4)
Tony Kadleck, Bob Millikan & Brian Pareshi—flugelhorn (4), trumpet (9)
Tom Malone, Keith O'Quinn & Dan Levine—trombone (4, 9)
Dave Taylor—bass trombone (4, 9)
Natashya Hawley—answer vocal (5)
Mac Aladdin—guitars (6, 8)
James De la Garza—trumpet (9)
Ronnie Cuber—baritone sax (9)
Lawrence Feldman—alto sax & clarinet (9)
Sam Bortka—tenor sax & bass clarinet (9)
Bob Malach—tenor sax & clarinet (9)
Lon Price—orchestration (9)
The best songs are among her best since Scarlet's Walk, so consider some cherry picking :) At least half of the songs are originals and many of the 'seasonal classics' are pleasantly rearranged. There aren't too many direct mentions of Jesus but the Christian references outnumber the pagan songs like album highlight 'Winter's Carol'.
Some fans think it's her best album since Scarlet, but I'm sure that's partly due to low expectations and an acceptance of sickly sweetness and daff lyrics on a Christmas/seasonal project. However, compared to most Christmas albums it's great. A good pop companion to Loreena's world and early music touches.
I don't like sappy ballad 'A silent night with you' and Xian pop 'Harps of gold' (bad as 'Not dying today'). The big band brass of 'Pink and glitter' is jarring and louder than everything around it.
More traditional 'What child, Nowell', 'Candle: Coventry Carol' and stately 'Emmanuel' are pretty but too standard for me to listen to out of season. Original 'Snow angel' is pretty enough. So is 'Jeanette, Isabella' with echos of Beekeeper songs, though this one has "Christ is born oh come behold blah blah" so not my favorite. 'Star of wonder' is a pleasant lite poppy Loreena-ish version of Three Kings. 'Holly, Ivy and Rose' is gorgeous despite featuring daughter Natashya on vocals!
'Our new year' with a missing (dead) love is lovely and would work fine on a non seasonal album. I adore the dark urgency and lush strings of 'Winter's Carol' with a summer queen and holly king sharing secrets. My favorite Tori song in years.
The album art is a Photoshop crime and insultingly amateur. Plastic Tori in crucifixion pose rising to the heavens. I thought it was someone's homemade joke, it's that bad. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Tori Amos' other recordings:
The main Tori Amos page
Thanks to JoAnn Whetsell for work on this entry.