30 October 2006

One More Drifter in the Snow

I generally don't like Christmas music with vocals, although there's some instrumental stuff that I'm very fond of; the lyrics rely too heavily on goodwill to men (something I'm hard pressed to believe in), nostalgia and stock images. So I s'pose it's inevitable that I'm not crazy about Aimee Mann's One More Drifter in the Snow, but it's disappointing anyway. It's full of standards I don't particularly like, and the songs that I do like are weak: most notably You're A Mean One, Mr. Grinch, which is soiled by some ham reading from the book, working too hard to fail at the Boris Karloff effect. (It doesn't help that it was done so very well by Hip Heavy Lip, either.)

The instrumentations are synth-heavy, and minus the pleasure of Aimee Mann's voice, the songs sound like they're being performed in a depressing lounge somewhere, where everyone is bitterly drunk trying to forget they have nowhere else to go. The only song that breaks through this malaise is God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen, which has a brisk, martial tempo that's a breath of fresh air to that particular song. One of the things I like about Aimee Mann is her lyrical approach, which mingles bitterness and loss with untempered memories of good intentions and better things, and I was hoping that she would bring that to Christmas music, either in the songs she chose or how she performed them; but there's not much sign of that. Calling on Mary is more her usual style (and it should be, given that she co-wrote it), and better than the hoary-boring classics, but not her best.

Stream all of 'em

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