Wednesday, December 16, 2009

A Very Rosie Christmas by Rosie Thomas (holiday music)

Though one is not supposed to judge a product by its cover, I have to admit that the photo on the front of A Very Rosie Christmas led me to believe that I was in for amateur night by the yule log. But the quirky appearance belies the heartfelt (and polished!) interpretations inside.

The eponymous Rosie Thomas offers a surprisingly faithful rendition of "Christmastime Is Here" (from A Charlie Brown Christmas), which is followed hard upon by the joyous pop confection — complete with horn and string sections — "Why Can't It Be Christmastime All Year?" (at this writing, currently available as a free download on Amazon). This is one of those songs that so captures the mood and tone of the season that it will become a favorite of all who hear it.

Like most Christmas albums, other covers follow, both of traditional favorites ("Winter Wonderland," "Let It Snow," "O Come O Come Emmanuel") and nontraditional selections and original offerings. She knocks the dust off the old chestnuts (her "Silent Night" is a creative reimagining), but it is through the other covers and new songs that the personality of A Very Rosie Christmas flows.

Thomas showcases her smooth vocals (reminiscent of Dar Williams) on Joni Mitchell's "River." "Snow Day" is an original instrumental that calls to mind the feeling of flying — or the closest thing to it on land: sledding — as well as snowball fights and other school's-out fun.

Also here is a straitlaced rendition of "Christmas Don't Be Late" (more famously known as "The Chipmunk Song"), which fares unevenly. Some powerful new verses have been added to the lyrics, but the nearly seven-minute length spotlights the original's musical weaknesses.

Another spotlight is the skit "Sheila's Christmas Miracle," where Thomas's alter ego Sheila Saputo meets a convenience-store manager who offers her a Christmas wish. Saputo is an engagingly quirky character, and Brian Shoop is kind and genuine as "Mr. Krinkle," as Sheila calls him. Lastly, Rosie sends us off with a Christmas wish, a perfect closer to A Very Rosie Christmas, an album that contains a great mix of holiday music and a great deal of Christmas spirit.

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