Cris Williamson

Snow Angel

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Women's music stalwart Cris Williamson turns in a varied set of Christmas-related music, some of it original, and not all of it, by any means, sunny. She tends to focus on the more secular aspects of the seasonal celebration, especially its message of peace, although, as the title suggests, the idea of angels doesn't bother her. There are traditional selections, among them a medley that includes "It Came Upon a Midnight Clear" and "Three Kings of Orient" and Mel Tormé and Robert Wells' standard "The Christmas Song," which closes the set. Then there are some less likely choices. Carol Hall's "Hard Candy Christmas," from the Broadway musical The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, is anything but a typical account of holiday cheer; in fact, despite its title, it's not really a Christmas song at all. (In the show, it's sung by several prostitutes who have just been put out of the whorehouse and are weighing their options, but who agree the experience is "like a hard candy Christmas.") More in the typical Christmas spirit, if still not actually a holiday song, is James Taylor's "Shower the People." Williamson herself contributes some personal memories in the spoken word "Moonlight Ranch" and in the song "Wish-Book," which finds her receiving an I.O.U. from her parents in lieu of a present on Christmas. This is, thus, a seasonal album of varying moods, reflecting as much "the dark days of winter," as Williamson puts it in a sleeve note, as "the bright, hopeful sun of a brand new year." But whatever the sentiment, the singer, working as usual with her partner Tret Fure, provides catchy, melodic music to go with it.

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