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"This is no mere jingly Christmas album, but a deep and beautiful recovery of the season of advent, of the darkness and longing that come before, and give their depth, to joy."

Malcolm  Guite, author of Faith, Hope  and Poetry / Ashgate Press, Cambridge, UK

"A gorgeously rendered album..."

Christianity Today

Co-produced by Doc Walker's Murray Pulver, and drawing from the deep pool of Canadian, veteran musicianship, Keening is a superbly crafted, elegant offering befitting an artist with 16 albums (well over 300,000 sold)  and numerous awards, including two JUNOs and multiple Prairie and Western Canadian Music awards.

Consistent with previous projects is Steve's richly melodic song-craft, sonorous tenor vocals and percussive, finger-style guitar.

Unique to this project is the evidence of Steve's lyric collaboration and friendship with the celebrated English poet, Malcolm Guite, whose generous contribution elevates Keening to a level of imaginative insight rarely offered in the popular music idiom.

Cutting a wide stylistic swath from acoustic roots to symphonic heights, Keening for the Dawn reanimates the rich currents of meaning underneath the tradition of Christmas.

Preview Tracks

Keening for the Dawn

O Come, O Come, Emmanuel

In the Bleak Midwinter

Read Steve's Blog about the new CD here.

Read Steve's Blog about O Come, O Come, Emmanuel here.

Keening for the Dawn Review

 by Kevin Belmonte, author of William Wilberforce: A Hero for Humanity (2002) and Miraculous (2012). 

Some gifts mark the seasons, and are, in themselves, things we return to gladly—gratefully.

Such a gift comes this year in Keening for the Dawn, the new release from one of Canada’s finest singer-songwriters: Steve Bell. For more than twenty years, his rich tenor voice has sounded in tandem with the fluent phrasings of a skilled guitarist. They have garnered Juno Awards that stand testimony to the respect of his peers.

This latest album, his seventeenth, conjures rich metaphor. It unfolds like a pilgrimage. And many coloured is the canvas it traverses. Advent, Christmastide, and Epiphany—these are the themes the shape Bell’s cycle of songs. Traditional instruments—acoustic guitar, piano, evocative percussion—all are present. But added to them are, by turns, hints of roots music, finely arranged, classical flourishes of violins and cello, even a bluesy shading or two of Hammond B3 organ. This album displays the simple gifts of a plaintive vocal as deftly as its more lavishly conceived arrangements. 

There is a sureness of touch here instrumentally, stylistically, that is met by burnished, finely honed lyrics. And this is the less surprising, because Bell has collaborated on several songs—the title track, “Descent,” “Refugee,” and “Epiphany on the Jordan”—with the British poet Malcolm Guite. Bell presents a lovely cover as well of Alana Levandoski’s stirring ballad, “Glory.” Moving spoken word poetry, finely rendered by Guite, graces “O Come, O Come Emmanuel,” and also, “Descent.”

All eleven tracks, taken together, beckon to the realm of the eternal, drawing the listener in. We walk the pilgrim’s road. Summoned by ancient words—and new, we find the place of the stable.

Rarely, if ever, does an Advent or Christmas album stand as a career benchmark—a fully realized expression of the gifts and life experience that shape a stunning, powerful performance. Yet such is Keening for the Dawn. Steve Bell has never released a more artfully crafted album. This one is, quite possibly, his finest. Seldom has Christmas drawn near with greater beauty in song.

Steve Bell Biography

Born into a musical family, Steve Bell has been performing and touring since he was eight years old. As Steve’s father was a prison Chaplain, it was federal prisoners in Drumheller Penitentiary who taught the young boy to play guitar at an early age. Bell recounts fondly, “I now perform world-over because Canada’s most unwanted men invested in me when I was a boy.”
In the early eighties Steve began to make his mark with the acclaimed folk trio Elias, Schritt and Bell. But it wasn’t until he ventured out on his own that his career stats started to shimmer.  Since his first solo release in 1989, Comfort My People, Bell has released 16 CDs, three concert videos and performed over 1500 concerts across Canada, the US, India, Thailand, the Philippines, Poland, Bulgaria, Ireland, and throughout the Caribbean.
More recently, Steve’s work has won him 26 concerts with Symphony orchestras across Canada and into the US.  In December 2011 a rapt, capacity crowd gathered to take in his concert with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra at Massey Hall.
In 1997, Steve was awarded the first JUNO Award for the category of Best Gospel Album. He has since received a second JUNO in 2000 and in the ensuing years has been awarded multiple Prairie Music, Western Canada Music and Covenant Awards.
With the 2012 release of his 17th career CD, Keening for the Dawn - Christmastide, Steve displays a rare longevity and commitment to his vocation. For this commitment, along with his advocacy work for the less fortunate, Steve has been awarded the Queen Elizabeth 11 Diamond Jubilee Medal.

Praise for "Keening for the Dawn"

“Even the bells are a new sound on this dance into the themes of Christmas.  Steve gives us fresh imagination to celebrate with as he weaves his poetry into a rich tapestry of inspiration.  A wonderful new favorite.”

-Lorna Dueck /  Context TV host and Globe and Mail Faith Commentary Writer


"...beautiful lyrics, great arrangements, stellar playing all around, powerful vocal performances, deep production."

-Larry Campbell / musician


"Fresh, energetic, evocative, and inspiring ... Keening for the Dawn will be my Advent soundtrack for years to come. A spiritual joy and a musical delight! "

-Brian D. McLaren, author/speaker/blogger


"This collection of songs bears all the beautiful fingerprints of co-labour with a highly skilled circle of musicians and producers. Every element reflects its rich literary and poetic influences… Keening for the Dawn is one of most singularly intelligent, lyrical, haunting “Christmas” albums I have ever heard and I highly commend it to you…."

-Lancia E. Smith - photographer/ blogger

"Steve Bell's Keening for the Dawn moves Christmas-themed music into deeper, richer, far more poetic territory than we are accustomed to… well past the warm fuzzies of fireside Christmas music. Bell's song-writing ability continues to take us all into territory both new and ancient. "

-Karen Stiller , writer/editor Faith Today Magazine


"FINALLY! An album which viscerally captures the holy eeriness of what I ache for at Christmas - a magical yearning for the hope behind The Birth. (PS. Fireplace & wine, sadly, not included.)"

-Drew Marshall - Broadcaster, Autodidactic Iconoclast

"Canada is in the midst of an unheralded renaissance. In literature, the arts, theology, philosophy, music, business, even cheese, the best exemplars are now found in Canada. Add singer-songwriter Steve Bell to that list. With a sound as original as Dylan, Bell is boldly exploring what it means to be fully alive and deeply human. "

-Leonard Sweet - Author


"Keening for the Dawn is beautiful and hopeful precisely because it recognizes the reality of all the darkness that can fall in our lives. He sings lament, and so we can trust him when he bids us look forward to the dawn. Drawing on Malcolm Guite's poetry for a number of extraordinary songs, Steve Bell has created an album that reveals more musical and lyrical depths with every listen."

-Dr. Holly Ordway - Author

"...a close listen to Keening for the Dawn was an experience that I found deeply moving, indeed, deeply healing."

-Brian Walsh - Author