Every year, I end up downloading much more Christmas music than I have time to write about. Sometimes I don't even get a chance to listen to it before Christmas. I always hang on to it, though, and usually it ends up being some of the first music I put into my Christmas playlist the following year. In Mansions' Peace On Earth was initially released on Christmas Day, 2008, so I never got a chance to listen to it last year. I finally heard it for the first time last week, absolutely loved it, and began writing a blog post about it almost immediately. I had a moment of panic when I realized that the EP was no longer available; however, I sent an email to the author of the site where it was posted (who also happens to be one of the artists on the EP), and a new link went live just a couple of days ago.
In Mansions is a duo consisting of Tara Ward and Graham Travis, and their arrangements and performances on Peace On Earth are smart, creative and very beautiful. My favourite song is the medley, "Bring A Torch Jeanette Isabella / O Come All Ye Faithful". "Bring A Torch Jeanette Isabella" is a song that I was not familiar with, but their version is absolutely gorgeous. Every year I seem to discover at least one Christmas song that I had not heard before and then spend some time exploring different versions of it. This will probably be one of those songs this year - the only problem is that I can't imagine any other versions being able to top this one, as it really is that beautiful! The way it transitions into "O Come All Ye Faithful" is very nicely done.
Another highlight is an upbeat version of "Joy to the World" that is driven by acoustic guitar. I also really love the version of "For Unto Us a Child is Born", which comes fom Handel's Messiah; they give it a very delicate arrangement, and I find Tara's vocals to be a little reminiscent of Sarah McLachlan. The entire EP is well worth hearing - so far, I think I have listened to it more than anything else this Christmas season, and I only came across it about a week ago (it was in some files that I had backed up while trying to save my computer from a malware infection). Please go check it out, and let me know what you think of it. Happy listening!