Beautiful Darkness - Celebrating the Winter Solstice

Beautiful Darkness - Celebrating the Winter Solstice
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  • by Jessica Radcliffe, Lisa Ekstrom, Martin Simpson
  • A beautiful reverie on the winter solstice season, in music, poetry & prose. A gentle atmospheric journey into the changing year.
  • Winter Solstice album - hauntingly beautiful - one of Jen's favorite albums - Highly reccomended!

Sale Price: $8.00   Originally: $17.00


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Beautiful Darkness - Celebrating the Winter Solstice

by Jessica Radcliffe, Lisa Ekstrom, Martin Simpson

Anything that can be said about Jessica Radcliffe doesn't quite seem to do her justice. She is a poet, a pagan, a shaman, a singer steeped in tradition and a songwriter of deeply personal songs that illuminate the human experience and can also make you catch your breath with their beauty. Beautiful Darkness is a beautiful, intelligent, deeply felt meditation on the Solstic - a rare release by Jessica Radcliffe, Lisa Ekström, and Martin Simpson

1. Northern Lass/Snowflakes/Snowflakes Henry Wadsworth Longfellow / Martin Simpson / Traditional
2. Time Is a Little Girl/Over the River and Through the Woods - Jessica Radcliffe
3. The Time Is Drawing Near - Traditional
4. Kolyada/Old One - Traditional
5. Raven Och Bonden/A Gift/Giving the Gift - Caitlin Matthews / Traditional
6. Give Me the Moon - Jessica Radcliffe
7. Abbotts Bromley Horn Dance/In Winter's Shadow - John Matthews / Traditional
8. O Vent - Traditional
9. The Cutty Wren/I Look for You - Jessica Radcliffe / Traditional
10. Til Here Is There - Robin Williamson
11. To Drive the Cold Winter Away - Traditional
12. One Small Candle/Beautiful Darkness - Jessica Radcliffe 13. The Winter Wedding/Wexford Carol/The King/The Holly and the Ivy - Traditional 14. Solstice Fire
15. Tourne Tourne
16. Bright Child/Magic - Jessica Radcliffe
17 The Holly Bears the Crown - Traditional


Released in 2000, Beautiful Darkness was one of the loveliest and most unusual holiday albums to come along in some time. It was a rare release, in that the people who made it -- Jessica Radcliffe, Lisa Ekström, and Martin Simpson -- seem to have made the album for artistic reasons, not commercial ones.
The album is all of a musical piece, relying heavily on mood to portray the undercurrent of the long winter nights. The instrumental work is as spare as the leaf-less winter woods, with guitar, bells, cello, and accordion creating a deep, subtle atmosphere.
Radcliffe handles most of the spoken-sung parts, and her fragile voice adds a touch of haunted ambience to the music.
If one gains the impression that Beautiful Darkness' heavy mood is a contemplation on death, it's only a fitting subject for the Solstice season. For anyone prone to sitting before the fireplace in mediation during chilly evenings, Beautiful Darkness is a desirable companion. For those who are sick to death of the same old holiday offerings, Radcliffe, Ekström, and Simpson offer a refreshing change.


Jessica was born in Los Angeles and was exposed to a diverse wealth of music through her family of Irish and Spanish heritage. She recalls learning Leadbelly tunes from her grandfather, who had a brief stay in jail with the blues legend. Jessica began writing poetry at an early age and naturally ventured forth into music playing her first show at thirteen. Her writing has been published worldwide and she has performed extensively with spoken word and song throughout the US, the United Kingdom, Europe, Japan and Hong Kong.
Jessica has moved twelve times in the past twenty years: from London to Ithaca, NY, and on to Northern California, where she established a built-in following, to New Orleans, to England, and she is now living back in New Orleans. Her work has been greatly influenced by her journeys.
The St. Louis Post observed of Jessica: "She writes lyrics that transform her life experiences into eloquent tales and metaphors." With music that is deeply rooted in the traditional music of England, Ireland, and North America, Radcliffe renders her very contemporary take on tradition, by infusing it with the varied influences of Richard Thompson, Skip James, Rickie Lee Jones and Billie Holiday. Jessica's superb songwriting, singing and stagecraft makes for unforgettable performances, whether live or recorded. She has made a series of critically acclaimed recordings, is a mother of three and her magical dinner parties are the stuff of legend!
She was married for 19 years to English guitarist Martin Simpson and has now returned to us with a voice as delicate and as strong as a spider's web, and a powerfully compassionate observation of the human condition.

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