One More Drifter in the Snow
offers a bittersweet--but not downbeat--look at a holiday that represents the height of happiness for some, the depths of sadness for others. Following in the classy footsteps of Miss Peggy Lee, Aimee Mann takes an intimate approach to an increasingly hectic time of year. In other words, the set is a throwback to a slower-paced era. (In cinematic terms, that means more Meet Me in St. Louis
, less Jingle All the Way
.) There are two fitting originals, "Calling on Mary" (Mann) and "Christmastime (Jon Brion and Michael Penn). The rest are seasonal favorites, with the exception of Jimmy Webb's "Whatever Happened to Christmas," which may be new to some. On all tracks, the focus is on the tasteful strings--credit Patrick Warren for the chamberlin, celeste, and pump organ--and Mann's delicate delivery. Overall, the artist is more interested in providing comfort than radical reinvention, although a dreamier-than-usual "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" enjoys a slight edge over the other selections. Grant Lee Phillips, taking over from Boris Karloff, provides the theatrical narration on "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch." --Kathleen C. Fennessy
Grammy winner and Oscar nominee Aimee's first Christmas album is a collection of holiday classics and two original, beautiful, and bittersweet songs written by Mann and Michael Penn. Reminiscent of classic albums of the 40's and 50's, but without any retro kitsch. Like Frank Sinatra, Johnny Mathis, and Peggy Lee, Aimee Mann captures the emotional beauty of Christmas.