Wednesday, December 4, 2013

CD Review: "Make Sure The Snow Falls" by The Bowmans

The Bowmans, twin sisters Sarah and Claire Bowman, with their new album “Make Sure The Snow Falls”, have given us not only one of the best Christmas releases this year, but, in Der Bingle’s humble opinion, one of the most perfect Christmas musical experiences ever.  Seriously, my friends.  Sarah and Claire, and sister Emily as well, accompanying on violin, have given us a beautiful, original, and completely rapturous record for this season.

The very opening measures of the first song, “Is He Going to Ask Me” set the tone of the album, showing the sisters’ tight harmonies that prevail throughout the record.  Sarah and Claire sing together flawlessly, harmonizing magically on every song.  Sarah is also a multi-instrumentalist, playing cello, piano, fiddle, Wurlitzer, guitar, and bells.  Along with Claire on percussion and Emily on violin, the acoustic musical arrangements are mesmerizing, perfectly blending with the sisters’ vocals.

“Make Sure the Snow Falls” features six original songs, and six arrangements of traditional Christmas tunes.  “Is He Going to Ask Me” is a Christmas love song deepy rooted in both the spirit of the season and a couple’s love, and the anticipation of a quite big moment. 

The title song, “Make Sure The Snow Falls”, delivers a powerful seasonal message of stewardship with nature and environmental responsibility.  With this song, Sarah tells of “a new way to be naughty these days”, with long-lasting effects on the world we live in.

“First Verses”, also written by Sarah, takes me back to my childhood days where, as the song says, we knew and sang the first verses of many Christmas songs, in church and in school.   It’s a nostalgic journey back 40-odd years to where my love for Christmas music began.

The traditional songs include “Good King Wenceslas”, What Child Is This”, and “We Three Kings”.  “Jolly Old Saint Nicholas” is terrific, with an additional verse delivering Santa a personal wish list from Sarah, Claire, and Emily.  What rhymes with “cello”?  You’ll be pleasantly surprised (no, not “jello”). 

The album closes with an a capella version of “Silent Night”, which the Bowmans perform absolutely perfectly.  Their harmony gives this reverent song a mystical spirituality, and is one of the best performances of this song I’ve ever heard.

“Make Sure The Snow Falls” has soared to one of my favorite Christmas records.  It’s up there with Andy Williams, Bing Crosby, Elvis, and Percy Faith.  It’s going to be one that I listen to many times each Christmas season.   I just can’t say enough about this amazing record. 

The Bowmans used a Kickstarter campaign to help fund the record and a Christmas book, “Mert, the Anxious Evergreen”, written and illustrated by Claire Bowman.  The story is terrific, and Claire’s artwork is colorful, joyous, and just wonderful!  A painting by Claire also graces the cover of the CD sleeve.  These twin sisters have artistic talent aplenty.  Their Kickstarter campaign had a very dramatic finish.  The funds had not come through yet into the last day of the campaign.  About an hour before it ended, I (as a backer), checked in, and it was getting pretty close.  The minutes were winding down.  As I was watching, the campaign ended, and the sisters were still short by a hundred dollars or less.  What a letdown.  Then, a few seconds later, Kickstarter refreshed, and their goal was attained!  Whew – talk about a close call!  The world of Christmas music is a better place with the funding and release of the CD and book.  And if the message of “Make Sure the Snow Falls” resonates, then the entire world will be a better place for all of us.

Listen to “Make Sure The Snow Falls” by The Bowmans on Spotify, then rush over to buy it from their website or from Amazon.  Pick up a copy or two of “Mert the Anxious Evergreen” while you’re there.  Give it as a gift to the children in your family.  And, keep a copy for yourself J

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