The Angel Gabriel is a song about the Annunciation, that is, when the Angel - I can't remember his name, oh wait, GABRIEL - told the Virgin Mary that she was going to be 'with child', even though.. you know. Anyway, this beautiful haunting 14th-century Basque carol is given the Wilson treatment and turns out as a simple, fragrant delight, arranged for four ladyvoices with sort of hypnotic interweaving of the parts. Of the Salutation songs, this is the simplest and maybe the most beautiful, apart from all the others which are also very beautiful.
The Angel Gabriel from heaven came,
His wings as drifted snow, his eyes as flame;
“All hail,” said he, “thou lowly maiden Mary,
Most highly favoured lady,” Gloria!
“For known a blessed mother thou shalt be,
All generations laud and honour thee;
Thy Son shall be Emmanuel, by seers foretold,
Most highly favoured lady.” Gloria!
Then gentle Mary meekly bowed her head,
“To me be as it pleaseth God,” she said,
“My soul shall laud and magnify his holy Name.”
Most highly favoured lady, Gloria!
Of her Emmanuel, the Christ, was born
In Bethlehem, all on a Christmas morn,
And Christian folk throughout the world will ever say—
“Most highly favoured lady,” Gloria!
Gabriel Kahane is often compared to Sufjan Stevens and Rufus Wainwright (both of whom he’s collaborated with in the past). It’s a lot to live up to, but to that already high bar I’ll add Ben Folds and Randy Newman, if only for Kahane’s similar sense of musical theatre, playful storytelling and ability to set … Continue reading Album of the Week: Where are the Arms → Bandcamp Album of the Day Dec 19, 2011