This wholly unconventional Christmas album is unflinching its evocation of both the shadows and light of the holiday season. The outgrowth of a series of late-night holiday concerts, The Darkest Night of the Year features quietly melancholy arrangements of both traditional carols and OTR originals. The album is predominantly acoustic, with large doses of bittersweet cello, guitar and piano. There are also a pair of oddly appropriate, experimental electric guitar instrumentals. In the liner notes, songwriter Linford Detweiler tells of his childhood Christmases: melancholy, rural affairs with family members missing. This music echoes the feeling he describes, of gathering in an old church building trying to create some warmth, beauty and hope, while outside the year dies a cold, dark death. The cover illustration shows an angel blaring a horn in the ear of an unsuspecting couch potato. That distinctly T.S. Eliot-esque ambivalence about death and rebirth (both spiritual and seasonal) also pervades these songs. The CD is dedicated to "anyone wrestling with their own dark angel this Christmas," and for all their hope and light, the songs acknowledge that darkness and pain don't always take the holidays off.
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