Jacqueline Schwab

Down Came an Angel

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This is one of the most beautiful and heartfelt Christmas discs to come along in a very long time. Featuring the strong, vibrant playing of Jacqueline Schwab, this collection of carols, Appalachian hymns, and spirituals manages to be meditative and emotional without rolling over into sickly sentimental folderol. Schwab's arrangements of Christmas classics like "It Came Upon a Midnight Clear," "O Little Town of Bethlehem," and "Go Tell It on the Mountain" are immediately recognizable, but they're played with such impassioned feeling that they somehow ring deeper and truer than usual. The songs here reflect the often conflicting feelings many of us have about Christmas -- a time of birth, children, and joy, but also a time of unease, loneliness, and despair -- but they're played with a simple directness that shines through everything, putting all the poignant, real emotions back into Christmas.

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