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Mary Chapin Carpenter|Come Darkness, Come Light: Twelve Songs Of Christmas

Come Darkness, Come Light: Twelve Songs Of Christmas

Mary Chapin Carpenter

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"The same old stories, same old songs/We dust them off when Christmas comes," Mary Chapin Carpenter sings in "Christmas Carol," a song she wrote for her first holiday album, Come Darkness, Come Light: Twelve Songs of Christmas, and while the line resonates in context, it also stands out because it sums up what Carpenter has chosen not to do with this disc. While Christmas albums tend to be dominated by cheerful but rote interpretations of holiday favorites, especially from artists with a history on the country charts, Carpenter wrote or co-wrote six new songs for Come Darkness, Come Light, and though there are three traditional numbers on the album, the usual suspects such as "White Christmas" and "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" are conspicuous in their absence. Come Darkness, Come Light instead focuses on the more thoughtful and spiritual side of the season -- "Bells Are Ringing" ponders symbols of faith in a chaotic world, "Christmas Carol" records the thoughts of a casual believer who is more concerned with Peace on Earth than the trappings of the Yuletide season, and "Christmas Time in the City" tells a fable of a street musician struggling to make a few bucks during the shopping season. Come Darkness, Come Light is the rare Christmas album that's made with thinking adults in mind, and Carpenter and co-producer John Jennings weren't afraid to make a record that's as thoughtful in its music as its lyrics; the arrangements are spare and tasteful, conveying the beauty of the melodies without cluttering them with gingerbread, and Carpenter's vocals are heartfelt without sounding histrionic, reflecting the inward contemplation that's a clear part of this music. Come Darkness, Come Light is a brave and beautiful collection of songs that dares to run counter to what most folks expect from a Christmas album, and it asks some questions worth pondering about the meaning behind the annual celebration while mirroring the simple joys of a snowy night.
© Mark Deming /TiVo

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Come Darkness, Come Light: Twelve Songs Of Christmas

Mary Chapin Carpenter

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1
Once In Royal David's City
00:03:25

John Jennings, Producer, Mixer, Accordion, Drums, Acoustic Guitar, Electric Guitar, Percussion, Recording Engineer, Upright Bass, Background Vocalist, Recording Producer, AssociatedPerformer, StudioPersonnel - Mary Chapin Carpenter, Producer, Vocals, Background Vocalist, Recording Producer, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Henry John Gauntlett, ComposerLyricist - Cecil Frances Alexander, ComposerLyricist - Jon Carroll, Piano, AssociatedPerformer - Charlie Pilzer, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel

℗ 2008 Rounder Records Corp.

2
Hot Buttered Rum
00:03:28

John Jennings, Producer, Mixer, Accordion, Drums, Acoustic Guitar, Electric Guitar, Percussion, Recording Engineer, Upright Bass, Background Vocalist, Recording Producer, AssociatedPerformer, StudioPersonnel - Mary Chapin Carpenter, Producer, Vocals, Background Vocalist, Recording Producer, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Charles Thompson, ComposerLyricist - Jon Carroll, Piano, AssociatedPerformer - Charlie Pilzer, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel

℗ 2008 Rounder Records Corp.

3
Still, Still, Still
00:03:28

John Jennings, Producer, Mixer, Accordion, Drums, Acoustic Guitar, Electric Guitar, Percussion, Recording Engineer, Upright Bass, Background Vocalist, Recording Producer, AssociatedPerformer, StudioPersonnel - Traditional, ComposerLyricist - Mary Chapin Carpenter, Producer, Acoustic Guitar, Vocals, Background Vocalist, Recording Producer, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Jon Carroll, Piano, AssociatedPerformer - Charlie Pilzer, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel

℗ 2008 Rounder Records Corp.

4
On A Quiet Christmas Morn
00:03:52

John Jennings, Producer, Mixer, Accordion, Drums, Acoustic Guitar, Electric Guitar, Percussion, Recording Engineer, Upright Bass, Background Vocalist, Recording Producer, AssociatedPerformer, StudioPersonnel - Robin Williams, ComposerLyricist - Linda Williams, ComposerLyricist - Mary Chapin Carpenter, Producer, Acoustic Guitar, Vocals, Background Vocalist, Recording Producer, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Jon Carroll, Piano, AssociatedPerformer - Charlie Pilzer, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel

℗ 2008 Rounder Records Corp.

5
Come Darkness, Come Light
00:04:01

John Jennings, Producer, Mixer, Accordion, Drums, Acoustic Guitar, Electric Guitar, Percussion, Recording Engineer, Upright Bass, Background Vocalist, Recording Producer, AssociatedPerformer, StudioPersonnel - Mary Chapin Carpenter, Producer, Vocals, Background Vocalist, Recording Producer, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Jon Carroll, Piano, AssociatedPerformer - Charlie Pilzer, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel

℗ 2008 Rounder Records Corp.

6
Christmas Time In The City
00:03:23

John Jennings, Producer, Mixer, Accordion, Drums, Acoustic Guitar, Electric Guitar, Percussion, Recording Engineer, Upright Bass, Background Vocalist, Recording Producer, AssociatedPerformer, StudioPersonnel, ComposerLyricist - Mary Chapin Carpenter, Producer, Vocals, Background Vocalist, Recording Producer, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Jon Carroll, Piano, AssociatedPerformer - Charlie Pilzer, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel

℗ 2008 Rounder Records Corp.

7
Candlelight Carol
00:04:00

John Jennings, Producer, Mixer, Accordion, Drums, Acoustic Guitar, Electric Guitar, Percussion, Recording Engineer, Upright Bass, Background Vocalist, Recording Producer, AssociatedPerformer, StudioPersonnel - John Rutter, Composer - Mary Chapin Carpenter, Producer, Acoustic Guitar, Vocals, Background Vocalist, Recording Producer, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Jon Carroll, Piano, AssociatedPerformer - Charlie Pilzer, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel

℗ 2008 Rounder Records Corp.

8
The Longest Night Of The Year
00:03:34

John Jennings, Producer, Mixer, Accordion, Drums, Acoustic Guitar, Electric Guitar, Percussion, Piano, Recording Engineer, Upright Bass, Background Vocalist, Recording Producer, AssociatedPerformer, StudioPersonnel - Mary Chapin Carpenter, Composer, Producer, Acoustic Guitar, Vocals, Background Vocalist, Recording Producer, Cadenzor, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Charlie Pilzer, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel

℗ 2008 Rounder Records Corp.

9
Thanksgiving Song
00:02:52

John Jennings, Producer, Mixer, Accordion, Drums, Acoustic Guitar, Electric Guitar, Percussion, Recording Engineer, Upright Bass, Background Vocalist, Recording Producer, AssociatedPerformer, StudioPersonnel - Mary Chapin Carpenter, Producer, Acoustic Guitar, Vocals, Background Vocalist, Recording Producer, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Jon Carroll, Piano, AssociatedPerformer - Charlie Pilzer, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel

℗ 2008 Rounder Records Corp.

10
Bells Are Ringing
00:03:34

John Jennings, Producer, Mixer, Accordion, Drums, Acoustic Guitar, Electric Guitar, Percussion, Recording Engineer, Upright Bass, Background Vocalist, Recording Producer, AssociatedPerformer, StudioPersonnel, ComposerLyricist - Mary Chapin Carpenter, Producer, Acoustic Guitar, Vocals, Background Vocalist, Recording Producer, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Jon Carroll, Piano, AssociatedPerformer - Charlie Pilzer, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel

℗ 2008 Rounder Records Corp.

11
Christmas Carol
00:05:11

John Jennings, Producer, Mixer, Accordion, Drums, Acoustic Guitar, Electric Guitar, Percussion, Recording Engineer, Upright Bass, Background Vocalist, Recording Producer, AssociatedPerformer, StudioPersonnel - Mary Chapin Carpenter, Producer, Vocals, Background Vocalist, Recording Producer, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Jon Carroll, Piano, AssociatedPerformer - Charlie Pilzer, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel

℗ 2008 Rounder Records Corp.

12
Children, Go Where I Send Thee
00:08:07

John Jennings, Producer, Mixer, Accordion, Drums, Acoustic Guitar, Electric Guitar, Percussion, Piano, Recording Engineer, Upright Bass, Background Vocalist, Recording Producer, AssociatedPerformer, StudioPersonnel - Traditional, ComposerLyricist - Mary Chapin Carpenter, Producer, Vocals, Background Vocalist, Recording Producer, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Charlie Pilzer, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel

℗ 2008 Rounder Records Corp.

Album Description

"The same old stories, same old songs/We dust them off when Christmas comes," Mary Chapin Carpenter sings in "Christmas Carol," a song she wrote for her first holiday album, Come Darkness, Come Light: Twelve Songs of Christmas, and while the line resonates in context, it also stands out because it sums up what Carpenter has chosen not to do with this disc. While Christmas albums tend to be dominated by cheerful but rote interpretations of holiday favorites, especially from artists with a history on the country charts, Carpenter wrote or co-wrote six new songs for Come Darkness, Come Light, and though there are three traditional numbers on the album, the usual suspects such as "White Christmas" and "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" are conspicuous in their absence. Come Darkness, Come Light instead focuses on the more thoughtful and spiritual side of the season -- "Bells Are Ringing" ponders symbols of faith in a chaotic world, "Christmas Carol" records the thoughts of a casual believer who is more concerned with Peace on Earth than the trappings of the Yuletide season, and "Christmas Time in the City" tells a fable of a street musician struggling to make a few bucks during the shopping season. Come Darkness, Come Light is the rare Christmas album that's made with thinking adults in mind, and Carpenter and co-producer John Jennings weren't afraid to make a record that's as thoughtful in its music as its lyrics; the arrangements are spare and tasteful, conveying the beauty of the melodies without cluttering them with gingerbread, and Carpenter's vocals are heartfelt without sounding histrionic, reflecting the inward contemplation that's a clear part of this music. Come Darkness, Come Light is a brave and beautiful collection of songs that dares to run counter to what most folks expect from a Christmas album, and it asks some questions worth pondering about the meaning behind the annual celebration while mirroring the simple joys of a snowy night.
© Mark Deming /TiVo

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