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Jennifer Cutting's Ocean Orchestra

Song of Solstice

(Sun Sign; US: 13 Sep 2011; UK: 12 Dec 2010)

This release straddles the same new age/pop territory that we have come to expect from the likes of Lori Line, Mannheim Steamroller, and the various “Celtic” music specials that dominate PBS stations across America. Nevertheless, Jennifer Cutting’s arrangements are varied and interesting. They possesses more authenticity and folk roots than typically expected from music within this genre. She contributed six original songs to this collection of ancient and modern tunes dedicated to Solstice and Yule. A group of Washington D.C. Celtic musicians accompany her to create sounds ranging from quiet harp based carols to epic celebrations balancing bagpipes, organ, electric guitars, and accordion.   


The most interesting thing about this contribution to the holiday genre is the explicit downplay of Christian holiday themes for those rooted in traditional Celtic paganism and beyond. Christmas themes are not entirely absent, but Song of Solstice attempts to paint a broad spirituality; the kind that will appeal to members of your local Unitarian Universalist Church. For those who can appreciate her broad approach, Song of Solstice is more bearable than the typical new age muzak that dominates strip malls this time of year. A unity is displayed amidst the variety of musical arrangements offered here.

Rating:

Philip Majorins is a church musician who lives in Northern California with his talented wife and four children.


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