Reviewed by Aaron Cloutier & Staff
The soulful vocals of singer Christy Phillips breathe new life into the moving melodies of the holiday classic “What Child Is This?” Though a song that has been covered a great deal from the likes of Josh Groban, Andrea Bocelli, Lyndsey Sterling and a host of others, Philips makes this interpretation her own. One that is equally beautiful and memorable.
The tonality and tempo create a reverent and pensive tone for most of the song with brief departures as it shifts to a major key during the 2nd half of each verse. Each half of the stanza acting as both a musical as well as literal question and answer. The first half of the verse progressions give me a “house of the rising sun feel.”
Arrangement is just as important here as Phillips’ vocal delivery as soft piano keys and tense staccato strings give way to long, slender sustained bows of cello. By the second half of the song additional string sections and what sounds to my ear like musical boxes, percussion and tambourine briefly join the mix to create a sense of dynamics. This arrangement is used almost like an instrument unto itself here as it builds and strips away throughout like waves coming to shore before rolling back into the ocean.
Produced by Billy Smiley, the mix is warm and rich with a full saturation of frequencies that immerses the listener in a lavish sonic experience. Be sure to include this amazing rendition in your upcoming Christmas playlist. Christy Phillips, "What Child Is This?" can be heard on WNIR Radio from December 16 - December 31st every night at 6:30pm Eastern time. Visit her YouTube channel for more great songs by Christy.