KENTVILLE, N.S. - “I always joked about recording another Christmas album,” says Kentville-based singer-songwriter, Rachel MacLean, “but people took me seriously, so I had to!”
After a year in the making, MacLean released the Christmas album Falling Snow in the fall of 2018.
The album is a mix of traditional and original songs featuring musicians Jamie Robinson, Kris McFarlane, Ian Sherwood, Ronald Hynes and Dave Staples.
There are a few pieces that are particularly meaningful, says MacLean.
O Come O Come Emmanuel is a really special duet version that she sings with Angie Campbell having arranged and sung it for Christmas With Friends one year. Breagha Hawley, MacLean’s 16-year-old daughter perform the duet, Gift of Love, an original song MacLean wrote for the two of them to sing together. Myah Hawley, MacLean’s 13-year-old daughter, is part of the female chorus, along with Campbell and Breagha, on the recording of Angels We Have Heard on High.
The album was recorded and produced at Jamie Robinson's home studio in Waverley and recorded, mixed and mastered at Wee House of Music in Lyon's Brook, N.S. by Dave Gunning.
“I feel we really captured exactly what I wanted for these songs,” says MacLean. “Jamie knows me so well now and I believe that plays an important part in that.”
When asked what her favourite songs on the album were, MacLean said she had two. Ave Maria was her Dad's favourite, she says, other than O Holy Night, which she already recorded, and Santa Baby.
“Eartha Kitt's original version is the best and I couldn't help but at least attempt it,” says MacLean.
Falling Snow marks the seventh album that MacLean has recorded, and the second solo album, the first five being with her sister, Mary, as the MacLean Sisters. After Mary had her third child, and because she lives two hours away, trying to keep up with travelling and being away from home was just too much.
“I was, naturally, disappointed because I absolutely love her voice and enjoyed singing with her,” says MacLean about her sister. “We still sing tunes together in the car on our way to dinner or shopping when I visit.”
Singing was always a natural part of MacLean’s life. Her father was a Baptist minister and he and her mother sang together all the time. Her mother played piano and her father always harmonized, and they really thought everyone sang like that, so it came very naturally to the children. MacLean says they would go to their friends’ houses and wonder why their parents didn't sing every evening.
“Singing has always just been such a part of me, something I never really over-thought or made a big deal about. It's just something that is so deeply rooted in who I am. It's a passion that will never fade, I'm sure. I'm often surprised, and thrilled, of course, that people enjoy what I do,” she says.
Locally, Falling Snow is available at Occasions Gifts in Kentville, Stirlings Fruit Farms in Greenwich, Hennigar's in Greenwich, Marshall's in Digby, and Windsor Home Hardware. More locations will be announced, so check rachelmaclean.ca for updates.
If you go
Rachel MacLean is performing in several concerts around the province, including the New Ross Christmas Festival at Christ Anglican Church on Dec. 8 at 7 p.m., Acadia University Hall in Christmas With Friends on Dec 9. at 7 p.m., and at Amherst First Baptist Church on Dec. 16 at 7 p.m.