One More Drifter in the Snow V2/Super­ego ★★★★

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - REVIEWS - Tony Clay­ton-Lea

While it’s true that Suf­jan Stevens has beaten most peo­ple to the Christ­mas punch with his Songs for Christ­mas box set, there’s still a con­tender for the “Best Christ­mas Album – Ever” slot in Aimee Mann’s quite sin­gu­lar take on the hoary old chest­nut of what con­sti­tutes a truly great sea­sonal song. Mann is hardly known for pro­vid­ing cheer at Christ­mas or any other time. Her an­gle on life is usu­ally skewed, sour and de­liv­ered with take-it-or-leave-it res­ig­na­tion and ter­rific melodies. Here, how­ever, Mann is not so much grap­pling with the horns of a dilemma but of a red-nosed rein­deer. Stylis­ti­cally, she knocks into a cocked hat most of the sea­sonal mu­si­cal dross that has been re­viewed in th­ese pages over the past cou­ple of weeks: your Bette Mi­dlers, your Billy Idols and your Wynona Judds with their un­fea­si­bly com­mon and ut­terly cliched approach to the “Christ­mas” song.

With only two orig­i­nals (Christ­mas­time, by Mann’s hus­band Michael Penn and long­time col­lab­o­ra­tor Jon Brion, and Call­ing on Mary, by Mann and bassist/pro­ducer Paul Bryan), it’s up to the by-now over-familiar ma­te­rial to be ei­ther rad­i­cally re­drafted or con­signed to the rub­bish tip. With one hor­rific er­ror (Dr Seuss’s You’re aMean One Mr Grinch) and one sub­lime “mod­ern” cover (Jimmy Webb’s What­ever Hap­pened to Christ­mas), Mann restyles the likes of The Christ­mas Song (aka Chest­nuts Roast­ing on an Open Fire), Win­ter Won­der­land, God Rest Ye Merry Gen­tle­men and White Christ­mas in the man­ner of a ’40s night­club singer en route from The Blue Note to the red light dis­trict: soul­ful, slinky and not a lit­tle bit risque.

Skip the Grinch dud and have your­self a merry lit­tle Christ­mas; the drinks are on me and Ms Mann. www.aimee­

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