Last Christmastime I became particularly enamored of Chris Botti’s album December. We own dozens of jazz Christmas CDs and Botti’s stands out, not only for his distinctive velvet trumpet tone but also for the quietly funky arrangements. It’s remarkable that someone can play such accessible (okay, popular–the Adjective of Death in jazz) music and yet do so in such an immediately recognizable and original way.
Well, singer-songwriter Bob Bennett’s new album, Christmastide, is just as distinctive but in the idiom of folk. And it is a delight.
Lyrically, it combines Bob’s evident enjoyment of the English language (he rarely settles for “moon/June/spoon” rhymes) articulating his savvy, yet spiritual discernment of both humbug and holiness set to some creative, subtle guitar-playing and lovely, unassumingly innovative musical lines. He offers some of his own compositions (the opening “God with Us” is deceptively folk-simple, with a “why haven’t I heard that before?” concluding line of genuine comfort: “God with us, with you, with me“) alongside startlingly fresh classics, from the well known “Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus” done as a bossa nova (I’m not kidding–and it works) to the much less well known “Jesus Christ the Apple Tree.”
I have ordered a bunch to give as gifts–if not this year, then next–taking advantage of Signpost Music’s phenomenal 10 for $99 sale, which is still on. Treat yourself and your kinfolk to this album of Christmas treats and treasures.
(And see this previous post for two other recommendations of Christmas albums on the Signpost label.)