Rosie Thomas is a lion of a woman in a mouse’s voice. Not her singing voice, mind you, her speaking one. Yes, she whispers her way through most of 2007’s These Friends of Mine with a who’s who of indie chic: Dave Bazan, Denison Witmer, Jeremy Enigk, and Damien Jurado, but in concert, between songs, she greets the audience with the voice of a pixie and pushes them into fits of laughter. If this music thing ever fails, she can make it as a stand-up.
Her most recent album, a Christmas album, is just the thing for the February post-Christmas blues. A Very Rosie Christmas hearkens back to a time when chestnuts, red Santa hats, and Christmas cheer were welcomed, when Christmas music was actually played at Christmastime instead of starting the day after Halloween. And in such a spirit, take a snow day, listen to this record, then pull it again this coming December.
I haven’t been so excited by Christmas music since Over the Rhine put out Snow Angels. Thomas doesn’t treat the album like an obligation but as an opportunity. Rosie isn’t pretentious, and she isn’t full of herself. Doggone-it! All the woman wants is for you to have a lovely Christmas!
This is a Christmas album of yore: Thomas wishes everyone a “holiday season surrounded by love” at the end of the last track. Thanks, Rosie. A stunt like that would seem disingenuous normally, but in the first ten tracks of the album, Thomas melts the ice around any wintery heart.
She uses the word “Christmastime” in three song titles, and the frivolity of it seems appropriate. Rosie sings about what she wishes and asks the listener along for the ride. The songs are categorically pop with bits of jazz and folk thrown in. Some of them borrow from holiday hymns specifically on “O Come O Emmanuel” and “Silent Night”, but then there is “River” which is completely original yet sounds classic (and classy). Rosie doesn’t neglect the standards either with the obligatory “Winter Wonderland”.
All-in-all this is an album that should seem tired, but it isn’t. It’s fun. It’s warm. It’s Rosie.