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BWW Album Review: IF THE FATES ALLOW Offers Hope Through a Hard Winter

A holiday album like never before!

BWW Album Review: IF THE FATES ALLOW Offers Hope Through a Hard Winter

"Spring will come again" may be one of the most iconic lines in Hadestown, but the cast's new holiday album If the Fates Allow proves that they're just as talented in the winter chill as in the bloom of spring. The project, led by the show's "Fates" Jewelle Blackman, Yvette Gonzalez-Nacer, and Kay Trinidad, is just the kind of album you'd expect from this cast: a soulful, folk-y collection of beautiful harmonies without a cliché in sight.

This is the time of year where we're used to everyone and their brother putting out a holiday album, usually with a selection of the same old Christmas songs, mostly classics with one or two pop hits mixed in there. If the Fates Allow, thankfully, is not one of those. Instead, the album kicks off with a cover of Queen's "Thank God It's Christmas," which could not possibly be a better fit for 2020. "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," the song opens, and does it ever hit hard this year in particular.

Anyone who's heard Blackman, Gonzalez-Nacer, and Trinidad on Hadestown's songs already knows how exquisite their harmonies can be. Anyone who's somehow listening to this album without knowing has a wonderful surprise in store. There's a tinge of old-school, Andrews Sisters girl-group vibes, but with more depth and truly unique character to each of their individual voices, which meld together in an almost alchemical way to create something truly special. There's not a weak song on the whole album, and it's equally due to the creative, eclectic song choices and to this trio's incredible vocals.

The Fates aren't alone on this holiday project, though, which makes it all the merrier. Their Hadestown co-stars guest on several tracks, with the show's ensemble joining in for several songs and each of the leads getting featured on their own song. Patrick Page is the first to show up, lending his unmistakable, deep voice to a cover of Leonard Cohen's "Come Healing." André De Shields, meanwhile, takes his bow on one of the more "standard" songs on the album, a swingy cover of "Blue Christmas" that doesn't try to imitate an Elvis-y style of blues, but instead lets him do what he does best.

Amber Gray guests on "The Longest Winter," one of the original tracks on the album, a haunting tune from the pen of Hadestown music director Liam Robinson. Like several of the other songs, it evokes Hadestown's themes and characters in a way: with a mournful tale of a lover who's only there in a bitterly cold winter, the song has a very Hades-and-Persephone feel to it. One of the great gifts of this album is that it doesn't try to be a peppy, traditional holiday album - it recognizes that this is a very different year, and perhaps no other group of people is better suited to find that balance between mournful and hopeful than this cast, accustomed to telling a bittersweet story about the inexorable turn of the seasons, about doubt and fear, and equally about the human instinct to always hope for a better outcome. It makes this album comforting in a way that most others aren't.

On the gently mournful "Winter Song," it's Reeve Carney and Eva Noblezada's turn to join their co-stars for a song. Once again, it feels like a song that's tailor-made for the uniquely challenging 2020 season, where too many people are without their loved ones and, like the lyrics go, too many people are stuck asking "is love alive?" And yet, this track is quite possibly the most Hadestown-esque of all the songs on the album, offering up a mournful tribute to what's lost while also reminding us that nothing is eternal and the sun will come out again. "I still believe in summer days / The seasons always change / And life will find a way," they croon, and somehow, you believe them.


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