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CD REVIEW: Steve Eulberg - 'Twas in the Moon of Wintertime
By JJ Biener - 12/14/2005 - 08:50 PM EST

Artist: Steve Eulberg
Album: 'Twas in the Moon of Wintertime
CD Review: Steve Eulberg
'Twas in the Moon of Wintertime

It is Christmas morning. The presents have been opened. The kids are playing with their new toys. You and your spouse are relaxing before you start making Christmas dinner. As you sit there listening to the stereo, you realize that if you hear Perry Como or Gene Autry or Andy Williams one more time, you are going lose your breakfast. You don't want to break the mood, but you just got to hear something different.

My prescription for a Christmas carol overdose is Steve Eulberg's 'Twas in The Moon of Wintertime. It captures the spirit of the season in a way that is still fresh and engaging. Through his instrumentation and his choice of material, Steve weaves us an aural environment within which we can find respite.

Steve's choice of instruments is the hammered and mountain dulcimers. Their unusual sound brings a unique voice to Steve's interpretation of common and not-so-common Christmas songs. He also plays guitar and percussion on these tracks to fill out the arrangements.

The CD contains some of the more traditional songs like God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen, We Three Kings, and Coventry Carol. Each of these treated with a unique and distinctive approach.

This release really shines when the tried and true are left behind, and Steve sets off down the road less traveled. Lovely Star is a perfect example. It is an adaptation by Korean composer Un-yung La of a hymn by Reginald Heber. Siri Lichte adds a flute melody over the almost medieval sounding track. The result is pleasing and haunting.

Another notable piece is the Spanish lullaby, A La Nanita Ginger. Steve uses a bowed bass mountain dulcimer to add another subtle texture to mountain and hammered dulcimers. Shepherd, Shepherd and Sister Mary add still another texture, a dulci-bro. It is a hybrid between a dulcimer and a dobro which adds a bluesy feel to these African-American spirituals.

This diverse collection also includes Le Sommeil de l'Enfant Jesus from France, Ven a Cantarle Jésus from the Caribbean, and the early American song Rejoice, My Friends.

One note of interest to musicians is that Steve includes the keys and tunings of his instruments in the liner notes. This may be common in some genres, but it is a practice I haven't seen before.

'Twas in The Moon of Wintertime is available from Steve Eulberg's company Owl Mountain Music. More information can be found at his website www.owlmtnmusic.com.


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