Jane Siberry - SHUSHAN the Palace (Hymns of Earth)
Written by Nicholas Jennings
Part of the problem with seasonal recordings is the well-worn familiarity of so many yuletide chestnuts. Who needs another “Frosty the Snowman”—even if it’s a bluegrass or swing version? Siberry’s got the right idea: take relatively obscure sacred songs by Bach, Handel, Mendelssohn and others and give them a fresh, calling-all-angels treatment. Especially heavenly are her renditions of Handel’s “How Beautiful are the Feet” and the 15th century German hymn “Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming.” Sweet and soothing.
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A genuinely boundary-busting artist, Traoré doesn’t follow in the footsteps of fellow Malian singers like Salif Keita or Oumou Sangaré. Thoroughly modern, she bridges songs in English, French and her...