This Warm December: A Brushfire Holiday, Vol. 1
First Appeared in The Music Box, November 2008, Volume 15, #11
Written by John Metzger
Fri November 28, 2008, 06:30 AM CST
Aside from its holiday-oriented songs as well as the fact that all of its participants are signed to Jack Johnsonís record label, thereís very little holding This Warm December: A Brushfire Holiday, Vol. 1 together. In fact, from its lo-fi ambience to its stylistic hodgepodge of material, itís hard to imagine that much time at all was spent planning and organizing the affair. Itís an odd strategy, considering how carefully scripted the works of Johnson and his cohorts have been. Strangely enough, though, this approach ultimately transforms the set into a collection of unpretentiously charming Yuletide fare.
While itís certainly true that the album isnít likely to become a holiday classic, This Warm December: A Brushfire Holiday, Vol. 1 does contain a few worthwhile nuggets: Mason Jennings, for example, delightfully recasts Santa Claus is Coming to Town as an old-time, Mississippi John Hurt-style folk tune. Zee Avi answers him with the gently lilting (and equally nostalgic) No Christmas for Me. Elsewhere, Neil Halstead wrenches the perkiness from Fountains of Wayneís The Man in the Santa Suit in order to return the song to its Ray Davies-on-Desolation Row-roots.
The rest of This Warm December: A Brushfire Holiday, Vol. 1, however, is filled with near-misses and pleasant curiosities. Matt Costaís All I Want for Christmas sounds like a lost home recording from John Lennon, while Money Mark gets in touch with his inner Elvis Costello on Stuck at the Airport. Rogue Wave peels the power pop away from The Whoís Christmas to render the song with a flair that is more mournful than angst-filled, and on the opening cut Someday at Christmas, Johnson finds common ground between his acoustic surfer-pop and The Beach Boysí canon.
The biggest problem with This Warm December: A Brushfire Holiday, Vol. 1 is that it isnít terribly memorable. Nevertheless, with barely more than 30 minutes worth of material, the outing has enough time to make its point before its strengths turn into weaknesses and its homespun atmospherics become overly cloying. Ĺ
Of Further Interest...
This Warm December: A Brushfire Holiday, Vol. 1 is available
from Barnes & Noble. To order, Click Here!
1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2008 The Music Box