A Killarney Christmas

Performed and recorded by Killarney Star in Gainesville, FL. 

Mixed, mastered and produced with Logic Pro X and a bit of stardust and sandpaper, by Killarney Star.  

All songs Public Domain except Star Come Down, written and composed by © 2021 Killarney Star Music, ASCAP. All rights reserved.  

Cover art by Killarney Star, with assistance from Christopher Tucker.

Special thanks to Coco Scott, and to Fabio Lendrum of Noize London for invaluable advice that made my songs really shine.

Thanks to Accusonus, Plugin Alliance, iZotope, Vladislav Goncharov, and Techivation, for magic plugins that saved me from that crappy mix I was working on lol.

My deep gratitude to my VIP Starlings for believing in me and for financing this album:

Mary Adams, Doug Burton , A. Claypool, LC Christine, Dawn Lock, Marianne McBride, Christopher McCracken, Silvana Mejia, Bill O'Donovan, Melissa Oliveri, Tammy Payne, Stefanie Schmid, Christopher Tucker, Jean Virnig

 THE STORY OF THIS ALBUM AND THE SONGS...

In this music I set out to capture the original spirit of Christmas, with a nod to my Irish heritage... my goal was to share the light Jesus brought to the world, through my own gifts. The First Noel was my improvisation/ meditation on self forgiveness for a very difficult year from start to finish. I needed to play a lullaby to my inner child who was hurting so much for all the terrible mistakes I made this year. I told her... in a sense, we are all new here. Every day is a First Noel, because Jesus brings forgiveness and healing. We are all learning. Forgiveness is love. 

Star Come Down is my first original Christmas song. My dad always told me I could be a famous musician if I wrote a hit Christmas song. Here's to you, Dad. :) The song was inspired by Sting's Gabriel's Message and the old Appalachian Christmas tune I Wonder As I Wander. I tried to create a simple folk melody and stage it played by minstrels in a castle banquet hall. I had a thought one day, what if the Star of Bethlehem was actually not just lighting the way, it WAS the way? The song's dark beginning welcomes the Star (Jesus) to today's world where we seem to be destroying ourselves as fast as we can... but still holding out hope. By the end of the song (as with all my songs), we have met our higher selves and stepped up to the task of saving humanity - inspired by the light of Jesus. I had fun placing Charlie's angels (my three backup voices) at the end so they are echoing from all sides. Another fun note: I tried to emulate the magical shimmering cavern of harp music evoked in Down to the Moon, a fantastical New Age piece and album by Andreas Vollenweider, an album I've loved since high school. 

Cantique Noel / O Holy Night has its roots with my beautiful mother, who passed when I was seven. Her favorite Christmas alum, and mine, was Joan Baez's Noel. Joan sings an amazing version in French, and when all was said and done (how I fought with this track to make it sound as lovely as it does!) I am incredibly proud that my version stands up to hers. When my mother was little, she and her sisters would gather together and sing Christmas carols, notably O Holy Night, where my mother would literally fall to her knees at that line for dramatic effect and set everyone cracking up.  

The last five songs comprise one of my now "famous" improvisational Christmas mashups. Ever since I was tiny, I'd sit at the piano for hours during December and string together carols and holiday favorites completely by ear. I'd write a list of them and go from one to the other, perfecting the arts of the medley, of improvisation, of variation on a theme, of artful transitions like modulations and capitulations. My dad and new mom, Bonnie, were my only audience, and they always made me feel like a rock star with their praise! For the past several years as I’ve grown my social media following, I began to play my mashup live online every Christmas. It’s always different songs and always an improvisation, completely by ear. I’ll practice the songs a couple times through to be sure I know the chords and what key I want to play each one in, then I’ll rip into it with joy and see what comes out. This one was recorded in just two takes (I went with the second one, the first one was like a warmup). It's infused with ethereal mystery, Irish turns and embellishments, Americana and blues riffs, and general joyful mayhem toward the end. It plays like a movie end credits piece, especially the last two songs. O Come, O Come Emmanuel and Coventry Carol are mysterious folk pieces that I tried to take to another dimension. Go Tell It On The Mountain is always popular live and an homage to another of my favorite Christmas albums, A Charlie Brown Christmas by the incomparable Vince Guaraldi. The Holly and The Ivy I play every year much in the style of George Winston’s absolutely magical improvisation on it on his epic album, December. But this year I wanted to do my own spin on the song, and like Cantique Noel, I have to say I’m extremely proud of how it stands up to his. Joy to the World is the song I have played in every mashup since I was a kid. I love to add octave scales as "bells" pealing in joyful celebration. This year it took on a whole new level of meaning, my hands and heart ran away with it, and is my straight-up celebration of my triumph over the most difficult year of my life.  

You can hear a lovely playlist of all the songs and music that inspired A Killarney Christmas right here. It’s a fun Spotify Christmas playlist to listen to in and of itself.

This project was, without exaggeration, the most challenging thing I've ever taken on. Having never professionally mixed or mastered my own music, with a budget of less than $200 and no help (except a few words of very helpful advice from Coco and from Fabio, mentioned above) I learned professional music production on the fly and completed the album in a little less than 12 weeks, while under several enormous deadlines for other things. I am beyond grateful that God gave me the time and the incredible amount of energy needed to work 5-18 hours a day on it (yes- I did) nonstop until I got it right. As right as I could before Christmas. Now... I'm going to go take a long nap. Enjoy.

TIP: For the very best listening experience, click the FREE button to download each song and play in iTunes (in order!) with your best headphones or ear buds. ;) This website isn't designed for high-quality streaming like Spotify or Apple and there's a bit of distortion, but if you don't have iTunes it's still good.

For the inspirations, crazy behind-the-scenes stories, and "Easter eggs" of this album, follow me on Instagram: killarney_star

To play without downloading, click the name of the song and the play button at the top. They will play in order.

On your phone? Tip to see the full track names AND to share on social media!

* Fun facts (for my audiophiles): Some songs are still being slightly tweaked for upload to the streaming platforms (Spotify, Apple, etc). I’ll update them here so you’re listening to the latest versions. I know Cantique Noel still has some sibilance and the piano’s too loud in places. I can’t fix it in the master without distorting the rest of the song and I can’t fix it in the original song file anymore because it got corrupted because I’m using a cranky 7 year old Mac lol. Will need to do some file archiving gymnastics to fix it. Or I might just let it be. And yes, I take the Christopher Walken approach to reeeeeverb. More, please.