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Come Darkness, Come Light - Twelve Songs of Christmas

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Album Review

"The same old stories, same old songs/We dust them off when Christmas comes," Mary Chapin Carpenter sings in "Christmas Carol," a song she wrote for her first holiday album, Come Darkness, Come Light: Twelve Songs of Christmas, and while the line resonates in context, it also stands out because it sums up what Carpenter has chosen not to do with this disc. While Christmas albums tend to be dominated by cheerful but rote interpretations of holiday favorites, especially from artists with a history on the country charts, Carpenter wrote or co-wrote six new songs for Come Darkness, Come Light, and though there are three traditional numbers on the album, the usual suspects such as "White Christmas" and "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" are conspicuous in their absence. Come Darkness, Come Light instead focuses on the more thoughtful and spiritual side of the season — "Bells Are Ringing" ponders symbols of faith in a chaotic world, "Christmas Carol" records the thoughts of a casual believer who is more concerned with Peace on Earth than the trappings of the Yuletide season, and "Christmas Time in the City" tells a fable of a street musician struggling to make a few bucks during the shopping season. Come Darkness, Come Light is the rare Christmas album that's made with thinking adults in mind, and Carpenter and co-producer John Jennings weren't afraid to make a record that's as thoughtful in its music as its lyrics; the arrangements are spare and tasteful, conveying the beauty of the melodies without cluttering them with gingerbread, and Carpenter's vocals are heartfelt without sounding histrionic, reflecting the inward contemplation that's a clear part of this music. Come Darkness, Come Light is a brave and beautiful collection of songs that dares to run counter to what most folks expect from a Christmas album, and it asks some questions worth pondering about the meaning behind the annual celebration while mirroring the simple joys of a snowy night.

Customer Reviews

Light up the Winter!

I read about this recording, but didn't find it until nearly December. A mix of traditional, original, and seasonal songs, there's enough here to forget the usual Christmas/Holiday chestnuts. Can you name a song about Thanksgiving that is actually about the subject? "Thanksgiving Song" replaces "Over The River and Through The Woods" once and for all. "Christmas Time In The City" puts you in the boots of a Busker, braving rain and the indifference of holiday shoppers, taking time for the Salvation Army band and a homeless person. A warm, uplifting song in spite of the setting. The title song has enough wattage to outshine the fanciest outdoor Christmas tree, and substitute for "Auld Lang Syne," if you need a break from that chestnut. I could go on, but it's early September, a long way from the swirling frenzy of Winter. Get this for someone who could use a lift at Christmas or when Winter winds blow.

Come Darkness, Come Light

I absolutely loved this album. I purchased three of them in March and I never do that to ANY cd's. It was beautiful.

My absolute favorite Christmas CD

I have had this CD for a couple of years now. I had checked it out at the local public library. I fell in love with the music and purchased it. Honestly, I play this CD all year. It is so calming. I love hearing Mary Chapin Carpenter's stories.
It puts the listener right in the story of the song. If you purchase this CD, you will not be disappointed.


Born: February 21, 1958 in Princeton, NJ

Genre: Country

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Mary Chapin Carpenter was part of a small movement of folk-influenced country singer/songwriters of the late '80s. Although many of these performers never achieved commercial success, Carpenter was able to channel her anti-Nashville approach into chart success and industry awards by the early '90s. Carpenter was born and raised in Princeton, New Jersey, the daughter of a Life magazine executive; she spent two years of her childhood in Japan, where her father was launching the Asian edition of Life....
Full Bio