REVIEW: If The Fates Allow: A Hadestown Holiday Album
“Oh, my love, we’ve had our share of tears / Oh, my friends, we’ve had our hopes and fears / Oh, my friends, it’s been a long hard year / But now it’s Christmas / Yes, it’s Christmas / Thank God it’s Christmas”
Those are the poignant lyrics that open If The Fates Allow: A Hadestown Holiday Album, released by Broadway Records on November 20, 2020. This song, originally by Queen, here superbly arranged and orchestrated by Todd Sickafoose, is the anthem we all so sorely need this year. By the end of the track, I was tearing up, and happy that I broke my no holiday music before December 1 rule. In a tumultuous year of ups and, let’s face it, mostly downs, If The Fates Allow: A Hadestown Holiday Album is a balm for the soul.
The brainchild of Yvette Gonzalez-Nacer, this album is a collection of classic and new holiday songs that you will want to listen repeatedly. There are appearances by Hadestown cast members Reeve Carney, André DeShields, Amber Gray, Eva Noblezada, and Patrick Page, all of whom bring their own unique talents to their tracks. However, the shining stars of the album are the Fates themselves: Jewelle Blackman, Yvette Gonzalez-Nacer, and Kay Trinidad. The Fates are vocal powerhouses, and Gonzalez-Nacer’s idea to use their talents to create a collection of holiday music is simply inspired. Their soulful vocals combined with the singular musical style that is all things Hadestown results in what is sure to become a holiday classic.
You cannot talk about the Fates without commenting on their harmonies, which are the stuff of legend, and the like of which I have not heard since Everyday Rapture. These amazing vocal arrangements were done by Liam Robinson, who is also a musician on the album. I first became a fan of the unsurpassed harmonies of the Fates on the Hadestown OBCR as I have sadly not yet had the pleasure of seeing the show on Broadway. Yet another reason to give thanks for cast albums!
Each Fate is featured on a particular track, Blackman on “Song of the Magi,” Trinidad on “Purple Snowflakes,” and Gonzalez-Nacer on “Gift for an Angel.” “Song of the Magi,” written by Hadestown scribe Anaïs Mitchell, is a simple storytelling song that is well constructed and a beautiful listen. “Gift for an Angel,” also a new song, written by Gonzalez-Nacer and Seth L. Johnson, is just delightful. Truly the Hallmark movie of holiday songs, and I mean that as a compliment. Finally, “Purple Snowflakes,” a playful song I had never heard written by Marvin Gaye, highlights the warmth of Trinidad’s vocal style.
Of all the guest performances by Hadestown cast members, my favourite hands down is André De Shields’ rendition of “Blue Christmas.” His vocals, combined with the fantastic performances by the band, backed up by the Fates, results in a warm blanket of joy that makes me want to drink eggnog and bake Christmas cookies in excess.
I cannot talk about this album without commenting on the immensely talented musicians who played on it. They are all wonderful, but I admit to being particularly smitten with Jacob Garchik’s trombone playing. That trombone sound is quintessentially Hadestown, and I was so pleased to hear it on their holiday offering.
The ensemble is equally magnificent, backing up the Fates and the other performers with aplomb and highlighted beautifully on all the tracks. This is especially evident on “Someday at Christmas,” which featured ensemble members Malcolm Armwood, Kimberly Marable, T. Oliver Reid and Khaila Wilcoxon.
I won’t go through every track, as clearly I enjoyed them all, but I will say my personal favourites are “Thank God It’s Christmas,” “Blue Christmas,” “8 Days (Of Hanukkah),” “Gift for an Angel,” and “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.”
To quote another show, "we need a little Christmas” more than ever this year as we cannot gather as usual, and consequently the potential for loneliness is heightened. If The Fates Allow: A Hadestown Holiday Album provides just the right amount of beauty, joy and hope to keep our spirits up. Thank you, Sister Fates.
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Hadestown - 2019 Original Broadway Cast If The Fates Allow: A Hadestown Holiday Album - 2020 Various Artists Hadestown Everyday Rapture Kimberly Marable Jewelle Blackman Liam Robinson Todd Sickafoose Yvette Gonzalez-Nacer Eva Noblezada Amber Gray Kay Trinidad Patrick Page Reeve Carney Anaïs Mitchell André DeShields Marvin Gaye T. Oliver Reid Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas (41) Toggle Additional (16)