Reviewed by Julian Wilson

Bronn Journey/Christmas Rose

Given that this is the season for bland, cookie-cutter Christmas albums, what a breath of fresh air it is to hear a Yuletide-themed CD that takes a different approach to paying tribute to the holiday. Christmas Rose is an album consisting of New Age instrumentals, mainly the sound of Bronn Journey and his harp. The gently plucked strings of “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” and “Still, Still, Still” produce sweet, ethereal tones that elevate these classic compositions to another level. “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” adds gorgeously soaring flute, and “Still, Still, Still” is spiced by angelic operatic singing.

Some of the Christmas pieces on here are even unfamiliar to me. Much credit should be given to Journey for not sticking with the obvious. “Once in Royal David’s City” and “Pat-a-Pan” are not commonly heard Christmas compositions, and their inclusion here adds a bolt of newness that is emotionally stirring. But, familiar or not, Journey’s delicate, dreamy harp playing makes these songs seem as if they were just written yesterday. “It Came Upon the Midnight Clear” is particularly beautiful, conjuring images of snow falling on the ground as Journey carries us into his own winter wonderland.