So it’s that time of year again when cashpoints ring and Christmas music comes tumbling out of everywhere. Here at Blabber’n’Smoke we’re a little bit curmudgeonly when it comes to these seasonal offerings. With the exceptions of the granddaddy of all Christmas albums, Phil Spector’s a Christmas Gift To You and John Fahey’s The New Possibility there’s not a Christmas album that we’d really sit down and listen to. In fact with the vast majority of them we’d rather stuff our ears with stuffing and hunker down with the turkey and hope it all goes away.
So here we have Texan singer and songwriter Kimmie Rhodes’ Miracles On Christmas Day. First thought on reading the bio and finding out that it was originally released in November 2010 and that it is re-released next week is either that this is cashing in or an astute awareness that this time last year most of us in the UK were snowbound. No matter, what does it sound like?
Well, for a Christmas album it’s not half bad. Of the 12 songs nine of them are composed by Rhodes and she certainly captures that child like sense of Christmas wonderment so beloved of Hollywood and TV admen. Semi devotional and glistening with sparkling guitars and keyboard songs like the opening Miracles On Christmas Day and The Toymaker’s Hands drip with seasonal sentiment and as such wouldn’t really be listened to outwith the Christmas window. Indeed it does beg the question of what to do with a Christmas album as one is unlikely to grab one from the shelf mid summer and stick it on. However, as Christmas songs go these are immaculately played and Rhodes actually manages to fit in a few that veer away from the template. Wake Up Sleepy Town is a superb Tex-Mex ballad with Joel Guzman of Los Super Seven doing his best Flaco Jiminez impression. Her version of Patty Griffin’s Mary is given a powerful interpretation while her rendition of What Child Is This with wintry sound effects and set to the music of Greensleeves is very evocative. Listening to this reminds us that while many folk might never have known of the late Bert Jansch his version of Christina Rosseti’s In The Bleak Midwinter is now a staple of many family Christmases due to its inclusion on numerous Christmas compilations.
So who would buy this? Kimmie Rhodes fans for sure. For anyone else that’s looking for some music to get into the spirit it does conjure up a Christmas feeling and it’s a million miles better than the usual retreads.
Wake Up Sleepy Town