Imagine waking up on Christmas morning and you've got a nasty cold, or the oven doesn't work, or worse still the TV blows! Not a great start, but heck it's still Christmas Day. And just like that, it's kind of how i find Christmas In The Heart.
As some other reviews have stated, I was sceptical when I read Dylan was putting together a Christmas record. I became even more sceptical when I saw the song list. But I was always hopeful he could pull it off. And, well, he has, but only if you can separate the music from the voice!
Dylan is such an iconic singer, for obvious reasons, that it's sometimes difficult listening to him sing the kind of songs choirs and the Salvation Army are famous for singing. This is not meant to be a thumbs down, I just find it a little uncomfortable in a traditional kind of way!
I actually like Dylan, and along with him I also like the Tindersticks, Eels, Grandaddy and various others, but I don't expect any of these to release a Christmas album, but if they did, I'm sure I would find that strange too.
I'll admit though, I am a fan of Christmas music. I like some of the cheesy stuff, I like the choir stuff a lot, and I like the crooner stuff too. But I am a very big fan of the music itself. I love the music of Christmas songs and carols whether it be by big band, orchestra, or just plain church bells, and this is where his album stands up, it's simply beautiful in places. It's a delightful mixture of old and new styles without losing any of it's magic. The backing vocals, harmonies, are lovely along with the arrangements. Even the insertion of sliding guitars every now and then work well. You do get that feeling some hard work has been put into this record to give you a sense of occasion, rather than an attempt to make a quick buck from the Christmas market. Anyway, I firmly believe that's not Dylan's style. So hats of to production, and content.
So overall it's difficult to see where this fits, or who's the winner. Is it typical Dylan showcasing Christmas music, or traditional Christmas music showcasing typical Dylan? Whatever it is, I unfortunately find the partnership a little uncomfortable. Please don't get me wrong on this, I will play it, but maybe not when I'm looking for that Christmas cheer...but then again, I should have expected that from Bob?