The Andrews Massey Duo are Emily Andrews (flutes) and David Massey (guitars). They are two classical musicians who, on their second album Make Merry, have arranged some well known carols using influences from around the world. The album is entirely instrumental, but there is plenty to keep the ears interested.
Make Merry opens with a hint of the mysterious East with a lovely flute introduction to We Three Kings. Good King Wenceslas fittingly, sounds more Eastern European than Middle Eastern. Just to add to the multi-cultural feel, While Shepherds Watched has a Latin beat, with interesting switches between major and minor keys.
That staple of Nativity plays, Away in a Manger is light and far from the dirge-like renditions one often has to endure. Here, as with many carols on the album, the musicians play variations on the tune, a technique used by many classical composers.
Often, the flutes and guitars are in conversation, as happens in God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen and Ding, Dong, Merrily on High.
The flute lends itself particularly well to poignant, haunting melodies, and this suits the advent carol O Come, O Come Emmanuel and the tragic Coventry Carol.
Silent Night is played on the alto flute, against a background of harp-like guitar harmonics, intended to represent a star-filled sky.
Hark the Herald Angels Sing is traditionally belted out at the end of carol services, but here is given a much more gentle, contemplative treatment. Even Jingle Bells is given a quieter treatment than usual, but this track ensures that the album finishes with a flourish, albeit a gentle one!
A well thought out album that brings new life to old favourites, without being in the slightest bit cheesy.Shelley Rainey
Released by AM Records, 23rd November 2013
1. We Three Kings of Orient Are
2. Good King Wenceslas
3. While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks by Night
4. Away in a Manger
5. God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen
6. O Come, O Come Emmanuel
7. Deck the Halls
8. The Holly and the Ivy
9. Silent Night
10. Ding-Dong Merrily on High
11. Hark the Herald Angels Sing
12. Coventry Carol
13. Jingle Bells