Sons of Maxwell deliver Instant Christmas

by Raymond J. Arsenault, Journal Pioneer, Summerside, PE

Nova
Scotia's Sons of Maxwell have scored big once again, this time with the
their seventh album, the glorious Instant Christmas. The independently
released disc features 10 cuts, including several classic favourites
and a few new ones. By far the best -- and the most energetic -- track
on the disc is Dave and Don Carroll's super-joyous rendition of Go Tell
It On The Mountain. They attack this bluesy-organ backed
country-hillbilly hand clapper with religious fervor, practically in
black gospel style. Its truly uplifting, thanks to the bang-on vocal
conviction and a great gospel-hall piano solo. I was humming that
little gem long after the CD player was turned off.

Not
musicians to be pigeon-holed into any one specific genre, the brotherly
duo presents a wide variety of musical styles on this great disc. Fort
he Celtic touch, they perform a beautiful version of I Saw Three Ships,
backed by a neat bodhran beat and some beautiful synthesized Celtic
flute, as well as the very Irish sounding Christmas in Killarney, with
the mandatory bodhran, mandolin and bagpipes (again thanks to the
synthesizer). On the jazzier side of things, they present a super-cool
funky, finger snappable version of Let It Snow, backed on cool guitars
by none other than Ian Janes. The brushed drums, the deep bass line and
Don's great vocal delivery make it quite memorable.

For
those who want to smile, the dazzling duo has included the fun, lively,
countrified foot-tapper, Mele Kalikimaka/Hawaiian Christmas. Dave does
a great job whistling one of the verses.

And for those
who may want a chuckle, Dave wrote the hilarious Cape Breton Christmas
Eve, a pleasant-melodied, danceable, pop-country-rock ditty about two
drunken Cape Bretoners who, without thinking, decide to go deer hunting
on Christmas Eve. I'll let you figure out the rest.

But
the brothers deliver this one in their trademark upbeat style, complete
with Everly Bothers-style harmonies. Nostalgia reigns high in the
beautiful Christmas Time At Home, written by Dave. It's got a nice
shuffly, mid-tempo beat, a smooth melody and picture perfect harmonies.

For the religiously inclined, they've included a superb rendition of
the midnight mass classic, O Holy Night. It begins with a nice piano
solo, with a bit of a different arrangement, followed by Don's
deep-voiced and conviction filled performance. The synthesized string
orchestra eventually joins in to bring it all to a resounding crescendo.

The slow Bleak Mid Winter has a nice light sway yet a profound feeling, thanks to some strong cello effects.

But
the most captivating song here is probably Stan Rogers' First Christmas
Away From Home. Don, with his pleasant, resounding and deep voice, pays
great homage to the master Maritime folk singer in this melancholic yet
touching piece. Once again, John Spearns' light cello effects make the
song rise to new heights.

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