Christmas Music for The Rest of Us: Midwinter by Peter Mayer

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If "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree" and those cliché radio versions of "Silent Night" by country music superstars excite you as much as a bawling colicky newborn in the middle of the night, I might have a good choice for you.

Midwinter by Peter Mayer (www.petermayer.net) fills this particular void in my life every Christmas season.  It's largely a reverent and creative collection of acoustic music, free and clear of corny holiday euphemisms and remakes. Most importantly, Mayer's Midwinter is all original music, which I find refreshing.  And should you doubt the validity - or "Christmas-ee feeling" - of music that's not a traditional carol you're ripe for Midwinter.  It'll do you good and pull you into the quiet and pleasant part of the season with the first notes of a French horn solo at the very beginning of the first track, "Stables," and as Mayer then sings:

In Bethlehem a manger waits
Long ago and so today
Where hatred-weary people pray
Love will come and lay there
(♫ click to listen)

I might enjoy my share of irreverent humor, heavy drink, and rock-n-roll, but after hearing Midwinter when it came out a few years ago, I consider Midwinter the benchmark for my holiday music: the regardful acoustic guitar playing, the original sacred lyrics, and the inclusion of varying instruments like mandolin and melodica.

Of all the tracks, "The Longest Night" moves me the most: "Gather friends" Mayer sings, "and cast your hopes / into the fire as it snows / And stare at God through the dark windows."

I know. It's not sleighbells and snowmen. But it's good stuff that sets the stage for December in my mind.

Recommended. Get your copy as soon as possible (or get it from iTunes): http://petermayer.net/music/?id=7

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