Generally, I'm not one to write reviews but, having read some of the negative reviews on this site, I feel a need to offer another perspective for fear someone might miss out on a really great album. That's right. A really great album. Not just a great Christmas record but a great album, period. Ms. Mann is in fine voice on this record and brings a hip, cool perspective to these old classic Christmas songs while including a couple of contemporary songs of her own which work beautifully with the classics. Overall, there is a laid back vibe to this record with a hint of blues and an oh-so-cool retro guitar courtesy of Duke Levine whom I had never heard before. Now, I plan to seek out his recordings.
The highlights for me include the retro-cool of "Winter Wonderland", the driving beat of "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" (rock on - lol), the lovely, melodic acoustics of "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas" and the beautiful melancholy of the outstanding "Calling on Mary". The new arrangement of "Christmastime" works in the context of the overall mood of the record but I prefer the original release of this song in which Ms. Mann duets with her husband, Michael Penn, who co-wrote it. And, no review can be complete without mentioning the devious fun heard in "You're A Mean One Mr. Grinch." Musically, this record is a departure for Ms. Mann and I wouldn't mind hearing this sound explored further on a non-holiday album.
When I received this album in the mail yesterday, I thought I would listen to it once then put it away until December. However, I found myself listening to it over and over again with a brief interruption to listen to the new Amos Lee album, "Supply and Demand", and an old Miles Davis soundtrack "Ascenseur pour l'echafaud". To say "I love this record" would be a huge understatement.
So, who will appreciate "One More Drifter in the Snow"? On a basic level, most (but, apparently, not all!) Aimee Mann fans will. Others, who have an appreciation of a wide range of great music, from 50's & 60's jazz to chamber music to indie rock, will hear the layers of sonic texture that give this deceptively simple record greater depth than most Christmas albums. Those who understand the season of Christmas is emotionally chaotic encompassing not only joy but melancholy will recognize the emotion Ms. Mann brings to this collection. Those who understand the season of Christmas can accentuate loneliness in the midst of gatherings will understand the message of "Calling on Mary". Those who have been waiting for Christmas music that doesn't fill your head with visions of the crassness of the modern day Christmas season will "get" this album. Those who choose pearls over swine will appreciate "One More Drifter in the Snow".
Thank you, Aimee Mann, for delivering this wonderful album. It is already a classic in my heart.