Time for another Christmas album now, and a first Aimee Mann album for me. I owned Lost in Space for a little while but I didn’t really give it much of a chance, so “One More Drifter In The Snow” is the first Aimee album I’ve really scrutinised.
I don’t know why this was pitched to me like some sort sarcastic depressing anti-Xmas record. I mean of course it’s much less sentimental than the sort of thing Jewel and Sarah McLachlan would put out, but I don’t find it particularly unfestive. I do prefer a lot of it to Jewel’s more traditional festive standards, her voice is nice and rich, makes me feel more Christmassy, while Jewel made me feel more CHURCHY.
Can’t say I know Whatever Happened to Christmas, and to be honest I don’t really get what it’s all about – to me, Christmas always seems pretty much the same. But still, a nice tune.
The Christmas Song (I didn’t know that was the real name) is more familiar, I think at a push it’s one of my favourite Christmas songs. Very warm and fuzzy, performed in a rather kitschy 50s tone. Not much deviation from the previous track but I like it a lot more.
I don’t recognise Christmastime though. A bit too jaunty, don’t really like the pace of it. Rather cruddy rhyming skillz too .. it’s alright, what serves as its chorus is pretty decent. I’ll be home for Christmas takes a while to get to the point, ending up with another sort of country-tinged log cabin feel about it. Her voice is starting to get a bit boring by this point, which isn’t great news in such a short album. Bit of a nonstarter.
You’re a mean one Mr Grinch sticks out like a sore thumb though, in a great way. I love this so much, Seussian language really sets it off. Your BRAIN is full of spiders! I love that narrator guy who steals the show really. STINK STANK STUUUUNK. The final chorus is just something else! You’re a THREE-DECKER Sauerkraut and toadstool sandwich … with ARSENIC SAUUUUUUCE. Amazing.
Winter Wonderland is the first track in common with Jewel’s effort. Again I can imagine this in some cruddy diner in the American mid-West or something, perpetually stuck in the 50s. It’s a classic song so she doesn’t cause too much damage. Less sickly than Jewel’s version, a highlight of the album so far, despite that faint praise.
Have yourself a merry little Christmas is one of the all-time best I reckon, and thankfully she delivers the goods. It’s not the best of the versions I’ve heard but she has a lot of warmth in her voice that makes up for the lack of range. Still lovely. On the other hand, I’m not sure God rest ye merry gentlemen really fits in, the first bit of actual religious content here, which seems oddly jarring. A rather stern-sounding brass band play in the background, in keeping with the rather deadpan delivery by Aimee. A bit of a different take on the classic, but not sure if that’s a good thing.
White Christmas is another seminal Xmas standard, oddly not touched by the other banshees I’ve listened to. I think maybe her voice doesn’t quite carry it off. It’s a pretty by-the-book rendition, and doesn’t really add much to it.
Calling on Mary is a new one to me, I do like the “Merry Christmas” refrain. I guess this is supposed to be one of the rather disillusioned-sounding tracks but it just sounds bored more than anything. It’s pretty decent though, it just doesn’t really excite me. It picks up towards the end though, I wish some of the more filler tracks were a bit more like this.
So the verdict, I like Aimee’s voice but this is just a bit much. The first time I listened to this was pretty good, but now it just feels a bit samey. Not really very alternative, it just feels like she can’t keep up with what ends up being a pretty normal Christmas album, even if it’s pretending not to play along.