HO HO WHO: Molly Burch, a whiskey-voiced, Austin, Texas-based artist who trained as a jazz singer before releasing a couple of sets of introspective romantic balladry in 2017 and 2018. The Molly Burch Christmas Album is only her third outing, which might seem early in her career for a long-player devoted mostly to seasonal covers. But it’s an impressive feat of curation: With the exception of a comic take on “Last Christmas” featuring guest stars John Early and Kate Berlant, the set gets most of its hall-decking mojo from a trio deep cuts (Vashti Bunyan’s “The Coldest Night of the Year,” The Mamas and the Papas’ “Snowqueen of Texas,” and Dolly Parton‘s “Hard Candy Christmas”). The two originals she’s composed are both gauzy lovesick-during-a-season-of-toxic-expectation numbers, of which “Holiday Dreaming” features the more acutely lovesick patient.
IT’S THE SEASON OF BELIEVIN’: Our narrator professes her yearning to be with some geographically or more likely emotionally distant prospective partner during the season of lights, but she seems not even to have screwed up the courage to ask, “Are you goin’ to the party? Do you want to take somebody?” As in so many romantic songs where the lyrics are deliberately hard to hear, shimmering guitar chords lull the listener into a state of relaxation from which they are unlikely to note the singer’s frankly alarming degree of fragility.
AM I ONE OF MAYBE MANY: Whomever she’s dreaming of—“you,” she says—we wish her a speedy recovery, or at least a transfer of her fixation to a more suitable candidate. Unless she’s in love with lovesickness itself, in which case, Mazel Tov! Careers have been built on less.
CHEER FACTOR: 5/10. It’s an uncanny expression of pressurized occasion-induced emotional ambivalence. Best of all, it contains no reference to any specific holiday, which means it’ll sound just as happy/sad/confused on Feb. 14.
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