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Sarah Darling Sarah Darling
Album: Winter Wonderland
Label: Be Darling
Tracks: 8

Nashville based Country singer Sarah Darling has gone slightly off piste here releasing a Christmas album. This is the second festive album that I have reviewed this week and I feel that is enough. I have already stated my slight frustration with the proliferation of festive albums but I have been fortunate to review two that are very listenable.

I really like Sarah Darling's voice which is always a good starter for a new album. It has been imaginatively produced and some of the backing takes it above the normal standard of music issued for the forthcoming celebrations.

It contains a few Christmas standards such as "White Christmas." Sarah might not be Bing Crosby but she makes a pretty good fist of this classic song. "I'll be home for Christmas" has a wonderful 50's sound to it and certainly warms up the cockles of the heart with the imagined sound of crackling logs on the fire. "Winter Wonderland" evokes the same lovely warm feeling with the vocals washing all over you like rich chocolate.

"Silent Night" is included as the one traditional carol and is a piece of music that perfectly suits Sarah's voice with its piano backing. A perfect piece of music for midnight on the 24th December!

The one track that really stands out for me is Sarah's rendition of the song that I personally feel is the best festive song ever written; Joni Mitchell's "River." I have heard a number of artists cover this beautiful piece of music and Sarah's version is most certainly up there with the best of them. I first heard the song in about 1971 when it was released on the "Blue" album and it made me shiver then and still does today. Christmas magic in a song!

I look forward to hearing more of Sarah and her own personal type of country music but in the meantime, this total departure for her will do for me.

Rory Stanbridge