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What it is: Seattle singer puts Sufjan Stevens—esque spin on Sarah McLachlan’s stellar Wintersong, with lots of horns and breathy, sometimes cloying, sometimes very nice vocals.
The bike under the tree: “Christmas Don’t Be Late,” the Alvin and the Chipmunks classic reimagined as a 6:40 ballad. Thomas imbues the previously chirpy song with longing for more innocent days. For someone who appears to live her life within quotation marks, Thomas’ take on Noel is beautifully, sincerely wistful.
The lump of coal: “O Come O Come Emmanuel,” which wouldn’t be out of place on a worship-music album.
Cheer factor: 7 out of 10—-knowing yet childlike joy is tempered with sadness that the ironic Christmas sweater won’t draw knowing “hee-yuks” from guest stars like Damien Jurado in a week or two.
LISTEN: “Christmas Don’t Be Late”
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