Half Notes: Jennifer Cuttings' Ocean Orchestra – Song of Solstice (2011)

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An uplifting shard of Celtic sunlight amidst the shivery glimmerings of winter, Jennifer Cutting’s rousing Song of Solstice is garland of emerald-island legacy pieces, serenely beautiful carols and majestic folk songs — all performed with age-old instrumentation of accordion, fiddle, whistle and bagpipes. Themes focus not just on the joys and disappointments of the holiday seasons (“Voici la Noel,” “Christmas Day in the Morning,” “Bah Humbug!”), but also on autumn’s end and the chill winds to follow (“Fall, Leaves Fall,” the title track, “In the Bleak MidWinter), and nature’s cycle of death and rebirth (“Green Man,” “Light the Winter’s Dark,” “Summer Will Come ‘Round Again”). Cuttings and the Ocean Orchestra frame the album’s central message perhaps best of all on the original tune “Song of Solstice,” when burly vocalist Tony Barrand sings, with a flinty burr: “the seeds’ long sleep nourished hope for springtide’s growing.” A timeless delight that’s just as appropriate and emotionally involving before Christmas as it is after.

‘Half Notes’ are quick-take thoughts on music from Something Else! Reviews, presented whenever the mood strikes us.

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Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso has written for USA Today, American Songwriter, All About Jazz, and a host of others. Honored as columnist of the year five times by the Associated Press, Louisiana Press Association and Louisiana Sports Writers Association, he oversaw a daily section named Top 10 in the U.S. by the AP before co-founding Something Else! Nick is now associate editor of Ultimate Classic Rock.
Nick DeRiso
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