Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Review -- ANDREA MENARD -- Sparkle

Andrea Menard
It's December, and that means Christmas is in the air. It also means it's a time when we pull out our seasonal CD collection, and start reliving musical memories that reach back to our earliest days. Christmas music is some of the best known, and loved music there is.That said it's always refreshing to add a new Christmas CD or two to the collection each year. If you're like me, you often go looking for something just a little different. It's great to hear another rendition of a seasonal classic, but I like hearing some unique takes on the season in terms of music.In that regard Saskatchewan's-own Andrea Menard has come up with a truly amazing album. Sparkle is a Christmas album that contains 13 songs, all new, all written by Menard. I am not sure I recall a time when an artist offered up a CD of all original Christmas music. It's almost always a case of mixing in at least a few old standards for familiarity's sake.In this case, had Menard chosen to go that route she would have done herself a huge disservice. Menard has come up with a superb album, one with a number of cuts that could well be classics of the season at some point in the future.There is the beautiful title cut; the jazzy Yuletide You, Evergreen, the '20s influenced Santa, I'm Broke, the haunting Christmas Letter and A Brand New Holiday.Northern Lights and My Winter Song are a pair of songs which are really interrelated. Northern Lights is an interlude lead-in to My Winter Song which pays homage to Menard's Metis heritage, and is hauntingly beautiful.It doesn't hurt either that Menard has a beautiful voice, one that has seen her do some exciting, out-of-the-box work in the past including the critically acclaimed The Velvet Devil.This is easily the best CD of non-traditional Christmas music I've heard since Stony Plain released a blues Christmas album a number of years ago, and as much as I love the blues, this one is better. It will be a winner with anyone who listens.If you are buying on Christmas CD this year, then you should make it Sparkle. Check it out at

-- Review first appeared in Yorkton This Week newspaper Dec. 3, 2008 - Yorkton, SK. Canada

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