Jill Barber, Rose Cousins & Meaghan Smith
A New Kind of Light
The most powerful metaphor coming out of Christmas is the light. The whole world turns toward greater light, longer days, at this time of year (however, and if, you mark it).
Around this time, we turn to storytellers like Jill Barber, Rose Cousins and Meaghan Smith to remind us to let in the light and to contemplate the glow—joyful work considering the sales of this album and the attendant concert on Friday November 30 at the Rebecca Cohn go entirely to Maritime Food Banks.
Working with deft musicians, the Halifax singer-songwriters give a new shine to some of the season’s classics, including “The Angel Gabriel”—brilliant three-part harmony from these ‘highly favoured’ ladies. Smith re-envisions “Little Drummer Boy,” while Cousins captures perfectly the melancholy at the heart of Vince Guaraldi’s melody for “Christmas Time is Here,” the album’s opener.
Melancholy has its own luminous quality. It’s long-distance light. Smith reveals that on her original, and a clever inversion of the old theme of homecoming, “I’ll Be Here for Christmas”; it’s a faint but still burning flame as Jill Barber shows us on the lesser-known standard “Christmas Bells” and her own “This Christmas.” And who knew a peace song, Barber’s own “Try for Peace,” could sound simultaneously smart and sweet and lowdown?
Peace is often described as light. Every year we renew our hope for peace, lighting candles anew. Rose Cousin’s “New Kind of Light” makes for a suitable and beautiful title track for this album and for this Christmas.