Charlie Zahm,
Angels We Have Heard on High
& Other Favorite Songs of Christmas

(independent, 2016)

Charlie Zahm, best known as a great big Scottish singer with a booming voice, has extended his reach over the years into several diverse musical styles, from Irish and maritime to cowboy, sacred and the Civil War. With his latest CD, Angels We Have Heard on High & Other Favorite Songs of Christmas, he returns to the heavily saturated holiday genre for his second Christmas CD. (The first, The White Snows of Winter, is reviewed here.)

There aren't a lot of surprises here, and as I mentioned in my review of White Snows, what truly matters on an album like this is how well the songs -- which let's face it, we've probably heard countless times and in countless variations -- are presented. And, once again, Zahm sings this selection of a dozen Christmas favorites with powerful, mellifluous tones that will quickly have you singing along.

The selection leans heavily toward the sacred; you won't find holly-jolly songs about magical snowmen or Italian donkeys here. (Whew!) The play list includes the very old ("The First Noel," a 15th-century carol, and "Friendly Beasts," which stems from the 12th) to the fairly recent (songs from the 20th-century are 1951's "Some Children See Him" and 1991's "Mary Did You Know"). Other selections include "We Three Kings," "Good King Wenceslas," "What Child is This?" and "It Came Upon the Midnight Clear."

Besides Charlie himself, on vocals and guitar, the album features Chris Nole on piano, Mike Noble on guitar, Steve Peavey on guitar and mandolin, Glen Duncan on fiddle, banjo and mandolin, Tony Paoletta on dobro and Cheryl Prashker on percussion.

All told, it's more than an hour of Christmas goodness. Charlie Zahm takes the familiar musical traditions of the holiday season and wraps them up with a big red bow and a zest for singing songs that matter.

Oh, and you have to love his holiday wardrobe for the cover, which features a festive waistcoat and bowtie in a traditional Cape Breton plaid.

[ visit the artist's website ]

music review by
Tom Knapp

3 December 2016

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