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O Holy Night by Sara Groves

Reviewed by Adrian B. Martinez

"Sara delivers a beautifully composed, enchantingly mysterious understated masterpiece."

A voice like Sara Grove’s was simply made to sing Christmas songs, as is proven on her collection of not-so traditional holiday fare, O Holy Night.

While her selection of songs seemingly indicated she played it safe and chose the “staple” of carols, rest assured, the comparison stops there. She has, if you will, “sarafied” her album much to my pure enjoyment. And while this is not your “mother’s” Christmas album, Sara delivers a beautifully composed, enchantingly mysterious understated masterpiece.

Beginning with “Star of Wonder”, at just a 1:34 she lures you in with the ever familiar lyrics and leaves you hanging. As I was listening, I thought that either my CD player had turned off, or the CD skipped. I had to smile as I wondered what other surprises would be included. Al la the classic scene in “A Charlie Brown Christmas” where Linus quotes the story of Christ’s birth, Sara has included her son Toby’s reading of this story on “It’s True”. As the lyrics suggest, it’s true, he was born in a stable, and stars blazed brightly showing the way to the Shepherds. I know it sounds absurd, but IT’S TRUE.

Mixing traditional carols with four originals, Sara Groves has fulfilled her dream. “I’ve always dreamed of doing a Christmas album,” Groves says. “Christmas music was such a part of life growing up. We had a huge stack of records that only get played for one month of the year.”

Of the originals, “To Be With You”, about Groves’ family Christmas, is a sentimental snapshot of their gathering at her grandma’s house. Singing a song of lament for days gone by when, “…you could hold a box and shake it… hear the pieces rattling around…” “Toy Packaging” is the Christmas morning anthem for parents who must now face “drawing up a battle plan to extricate this robot man” and must ask the children to leave the room before seeing the parent cry because they cannot work the twist tie.

Ok, so where is the big risk? Sara has magically taken such beloved classics as “O Holy Night”, “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear”, and “Angels we have Heard on High” and reworked them not only lyrically much musically.

Simply by not placing an emphasis on the “O” in "O, Holy Night", a new song is created. The lyrics are exactly the same, but you won’t believe it as you listen. It is the radical reworking and rearranging of these time-tested gems that will allow this album to become more than background music to be played during holiday parties. Wanting to create a piece that celebrated the Good News and putting a new focus on the lyrics, Sara has put the heart and true meaning of these songs at the forefront.

Talking about O Holy Night, Sara Groves said, “I wanted to convey this story of Christ that’s been told so many times with as much artistry and creativity as possible because it bears repeating.” She has succeeded beautifully. Angels we have heard on high…. Angels we have heard from Sara Groves.

Adrian B. Martinez: "Music and Movies, Movies and Music, always the twain shall meet" is Adrian B. Martinez's motto; a displaced New Yorker living in Connecticut. A complete Movie nut, Adrian was responsible for writing movie synopsis' for Loews Movie Theater's for over 5 years. At any given time that would be a synopsis for over 25 movies in one week. Whew! Nowadays, she is a regular in the Press area for the Creation Festival and Purple Door Festival. To keep her in the lifestyle she has become accustomed, she does web-design for DelMonico Hatter in New Haven, Ct. and serves as a Supervisor for the Hartford Civic Center, also in Ct. An avid traveler, Adrian has been to Europe numerous times and can be seen criss-crossing the United States in her re-furbished 1974 Orange Volkswagen Vanagon which has allowed her to participate in her favorite past-time, meeting new people….When she does take the time to stop, she spends her time with a very handsome man that goes by the name of Zorro. He can be seen sleeping on the couch, bed, bathing in the sunlight on a window ledge or anywhere else that he deems comfortable. Zorro of course, is her cat.