What’s your pick
for the most
It’s not without some irony that the most cravenly commercial of musical efforts is the de rigueur collection of holiday standards. Rather than speak to the aspirational spirit of the season, they instead belie the blatant corporatism that more often defines it. Most holiday albums are not so much recordings that reflect the true spirit of their performers, as they are merchandise to be sold during the time of year when people are apt to make such impulse purchases.
For this reason most holiday albums can be considered–at best–inessential. Novelties that serve as much purpose on an artist’s discography as a third “greatest hits” album. The type of records that are played once, forgotten and never heard again.
But sometimes artists DO rise to the challenge and treat their holiday album as seriously as they would any other release. These are albums that not only stand the test of time, but compare equally, if not even favourably to the musician’s other efforts. These are the albums that we actually find ourselves listening to in August as much as we do in December.
My pick for just such an album is Tori Amos’ Midwinter Graces, which is as unique a showcase of her talents as anything else she’s released. This makes sense, since in essence it’s another one of the concept albums that defined the middle section of her career. But unlike The Beekeeper, Scarlet’s Walk and Abnormally Attracted to Sin, this effort avoids feeling overstuffed and its release marked a true return to form that ultimately set the path to Unrepentant Geraldines, her best work since From the Choirgirl Hotel.
Most importantly–to my ears–it was also the first album where she employed the talents of her daughter, Natashya, whose voice is so fresh and unique that it has had me dreaming of her own solo album since 2009.
So that’s my pick. What’s the one holiday album that you could listen to anytime of the year? The one that you think is as important as any other album its creator has ever released?