Tuesday, November 24, 2020

A rare endorsement of a contemporary holiday album that could very well become a classic.

Photo by Chris Edwards
This is the year I know I've softened when it comes to the approaching holidays, because for the first time I haven't thrown into an irrational rage over Christmas decorations coming out before Thanksgiving. Given the state of the world, I'm realizing the power in even the smallest gestures of joy.

But I've held onto my disdain for most contemporary holiday albums as half-baked cash grabs with little to no personality. Or, even worse, those that simply turn pop songs into "holiday songs" by adding obnoxious sleigh bells to tunes that 100% don't need them.

The key word here is "contemporary," though. I love the heck out of older holiday music, which was no less a cash grab at the time but ended up being timeless despite that. 

So when Kelly Finnigan's A Joyful Sound showed up in October I listened begrudgingly ... for about 10 seconds before that initial resistance turned into an open embrace. When I went back to actually read the press release alongside the albums (when possible I listen to tunes first and read the bits about the artist intentions after) it made a ton of sense:
Featuring members of Durand Jones & The Indications, The Dap-Kings, Ghost Funk Orchestra, Monophonics, Thee Sinseers, Orgone, Ikebe Shakedown, Jason Joshua & The Beholders, The True Loves, Neal Francis, Jungle Fire, Delvon Lamarr Organ Trio, Ben Pirani, The Jive Turkeys, The Ironsides, The Harlem Gospel Travelers, Rudy De Anda, Alanna Royale, and more! Inspired by records like Atlantic's Soul Christmas, Phil Spector's A Christmas Gift For You and Rotary Connection's Peace, this album will appeal not only to lovers of holiday music, but lovers of SOUL music in general!  
In light of that, Finnigan and his compatriots absolutely delivered an album I seriously consider a new holiday classic. In this world, Christmas is snowy and beautiful but also dusty and groovy. This could turn even the most sedate family gathering into an all-ages dance party—I guarantee grandma is gonna love these songs just as much as the dour goth tween sitting sullenly at the other end to the table grousing about the lack of vegan options.

In fact, this is the rare holiday album I could see playing all year round. It's that fucking good.

Don't take my word on it though, get into the holiday groove and see for yourself!

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