This has been a season rife with holiday EPs, but Lyle Lovett's Songs of the Season is my favorite so far.
The EP consists of three songs: two Christmas favorites, "Baby, It's Cold Outside," and "Christmastime Is Here" from the Charlie Brown Christmas Special; and an original song by Lovett, "The Girl With the Holiday Smile," which is anything but a traditional carol. In true Lovett fashion, it is a song about meeting a "working girl" at Christmas, proving that you can find the Christmas spirit in some very unconventional places ("I met a hooker at the grocery store/ She wasn't bad looking, she was a pretty little whore/ She's the girl with the holiday smile").
On "Baby, It's Cold Outside" and "Christmastime Is Here," Lovett duets with Austin, Texas singer Kat Edmundson, whose voice, with its quirky quality (rather like a vintage blues woman from the 30s or 40s) complements Lovett's smooth style perfectly.
"Baby, It's Cold Outside" has become the perfect Christmas duet song for nearly everyone, despite having nothing to do with Christmas, really. It somehow happened that many songs that only have to do with cold and snow have become Christmas classics, and this is one of the best because of its playful, flirtatious nature and the way it allows the male and female voices to interact. Lovett and Edmundson do full justice to the song.
"Christmastime Is Here" is an inspired choice, because the song brings out the child in everyone and perfectly captures the pure joy of the season. This straightforward rendition makes one dream of ice skating, building snowmen, and gazing upon twinkling Christmas trees.
There is nothing particularly innovative or new about the traditional songs on this EP; Lovett lets "The Girl With the Holiday Smile" add the element of surprise. Altogether, this is a delightful little holiday treat for the ears.
"Baby, It's Cold Outside" and "The Girl With the Holiday Smile" are also going to be included on Lovett's new album, Release Me, in February 2012.