By Kerry Dexter
In her work as a professional musician and before that, as the daughter of writers whose work took them to different parts of the world, Shannon Heatonhas traveled and lived in locations from Africa to Chicago, from Boulder, Colorado to County Clare in Ireland, from Thailand to Germany to her current base in the Boston area. One thing she learned through all that is that the cold days of winter are not her favorite times of year.
As she and her husband Matt were gathering material for a Christmas album, though, Matt gave her a challenge to write a song focusing on the good things about winter. Crystal clear nights, welcoming glow of lights, the warmth of the hearth after the cold winter wind, gathering with friends — all these things found their way in to Shannon’s song Fine Winter’s NIght. It became a thoughtful, inviting meditation, both musically and lyrically, and a fitting title track for their holiday collection.
There are other gems to be enjoyed on the album as well. The Heatons make their music where the sounds of Ireland meet Americana and where tradition steps into present day. On Fine Winter’s Night , you will find both secular and sacred music to help you reflect and celebrate as you move through the season of winter.
Matt takes the lead on the Wexford Carol, which dates back at least to the 12th century in Ireland. Shannon’s voice leads the beloved American carol O Little Town of Bethlehem, which she sings as a lullabye. Dust of Snow is a crisp seasonal instrumental — Matt plays guitar and bouzouki, Shannon flute and whistles — and Christmas at Mount Horeb is a mellow tune featuring Matt’s finger style guitar.
Shannon gave Matt a songwriting challenge for this album, as well. Her idea was to have him make a song from something having to do with their town. The result is First Snowfall of December, a story of a December moment in another time inspired by a Victorian house Matt passed by. For the holiday favorite It Came Upon the Midnight Clear, the couple chose a slightly different setting than the familiar one. Day Dawn is a set made up of a haunting air from Shetland which Shannon plays on the flute paired with two lively jigs from Matt on guitar. Fisherman’s Lullabye gives an African American spiritual a Celtic touch, and it’s a sure thing you’ll not forget meeting the gentle lead character of Julius the Christmas Cat. The other songs and tunes are equally engaging.
Fine Winter’s Night makes a good companion indeed through winter days and nights.
Note: It is the policy of A Traveler’s Library to let you know about affiliate links. There are links in this article to Amazon, where you can listen to bits of the album, and do your shopping if you wish. It does not cost you any more to do your holiday shopping this way, and you will be benefiting Music Road and A Traveler’s Library.
Have you contributed to Water.org through Passports With Purpose yet? Lots of prizes to win, including these musical travel prizes.