Let it be said straight out – The Gothard Sisters are among the best musicians working in modern music today, regardless of genre. This might seem bold, but the evidence for such an assertion is there. Each of the three sisters compromising the group are accomplished singers and multi-instrumentalists capable of writing their own music. They sound comfortable with anything they turn their attentions to and often demonstrate impressive versatility. They are equally adept at tackling the long time classics of the genre, sometimes with roots reaching all the way into the 1500’s, as they are at handling much younger material. This is a group who serves notice, in every song, that they are capable of dealing with any sort of material and bringing style and sophistication to even the most familiar musical landscapes. Falling Snow, their latest release, is a fine collection of ten songs, some instrumentals, which glow with talent and the light of the season.
It begins with an inventive re-imagining of “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” that pays deference to past versions while imbuing it with a Celtic flair that goes far beyond the typical outings for this song. Solana Gothard is the band’s lead vocalist, but her sisters Greta and Willow often share vocal duties with her and their habit of alternating the lines, sometimes flying solo while other times. “Christmas Flower” is a beautiful instrumental full of genuine and layered delicacy that carries over nicely into a cover of the early 1930’s standard “Winter Wonderland”. This is one of the album’s best moments because it shows a group who can deliver a faithful cover yet fill it with their own personality. The musical arrangements of the material on Falling Snow are often quite respectful of the original versions, but doing so doesn’t have to mean sacrificing your creativity or originality and The Gothard Sisters understand this quite well.
“Good King Wenceslas” is the oldest track in the collection, but you’d never know that hearing The Gothard Sisters perform it. They bring this sixteenth century based song to vivid life with their tight adherence to melody and the confidence of their playing. “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” is taken at a little brisker of a tempo than what some listeners might be familiar with and the gorgeous violin playing that keys the song has impressive fluidity and lyricism. “The Skater’s Waltz”, in the hands of this group, is proud to show off its classical origins, but it has a directness thanks to their playing that helps make it accessible to any audience./ The final song on Falling Snow is, quite appropriately, “Joy to the World” and The Gothard Sisters bring Falling Snow to a stirring conclusion with this performance. Many covers of this song seem to regard making any changes to its tone as akin to a sacrilegious action, but The Gothard Sisters prove what a malleable work of art this is. There’s something for everyone, not just fans of the Christmas season, on this musically fine release.
9 out of 10 stars.