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Rani Arbo and Daisy Mayhem

Wintersong – 2016 (Signature Sounds)

Reviewed by Dan MacIntosh

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CDs by Rani Arbo and Daisy Mayhem

With "Wintersong," Rani Arbo & Daisy Mayhem dig deep for its roots. Many of the songs on this 13-song holiday set will likely be unfamiliar. It took until track five, in fact - with "Children Go Where I Send Thee" - for familiarity to set in. But just as changing up the melody on a familiar carol can sometimes help refocus us on a well-known song, filling an album with relatively unfamiliar songs can also cause listeners to see the holiday season in new light. This is one of the many benefits of Rani Arbo & Daisy Mayhem's release.

The quartet has its old timey style so together that they can take a relatively modern Christmas song, and make it sound like something vintage. "2000 Miles" is, in fact, a song by The Pretenders. It's performed gently with soft signing and harmonies. "Christmas Bells" is a song arranged with an alternate melody. Its lyric about how there is oftentimes cognitive dissonance between the idealized Christmas season in our minds and the many times darker reality of peace-less-ness in the contemporary world is a welcome reminder that all is not always completely well.

With "Let's Make a Baby King," Rani Arbo & Daisy Mayhem surprisingly make the Christmas story sound sexy. Not quite, Eartha Kitt "Santa Baby" sexy, mind you, but hot enough to make you want to get down and groove a little to the story of the Savior's birth.

Rani Arbo & Daisy Mayhem's "Wintersong" is full of surprises, and nothing at all to bah humbug at.