Beth Gadbaw and Margot Krimmel's holiday album, Icy December, melds familiar Christmas songs with Celtic instrumentation and features some well-worn holiday staples. But the musical treatment — via Krimmel's Celtic harp and pedal harp, driving forces of the album along with Gadbaw's Irish bodhran drum — doesn't feel at all tired or familiar. Combined with the pair's solid harmonies, the instrumentation adds a new dimension to the standard holiday fare. December's loveliest moments veer from the beaten Christmas path and hint at ancient Irish roots. Krimmel's rendition of "Loftus Jones," an air by the legendary seventeenth-century blind Irish harper Turlough O'Carolan, is graceful and heartfelt, and the instrumental "Walking in the Air" brings out the harp's most hypnotic and entrancing sounds. At its worst, Icy December feels like a well-intentioned romp through familiar holiday territory. At its best, the album speaks of something ancient, of sounds and stories that go deeper than tired carols and empty songs.
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