Big Tree: December

big-tree-decemberFor two years now, I’ve been a bit obsessed with Cee-Lo’s Christmas album. No, I don’t listen to it before Thanksgiving or after Christmas (who do you think I am?), but for the holiday season, Cee-Lo’s Magic Moment is extremely satisfying. It’s a fairly predictable runthrough of holiday standards. You have “White Christmas” and “Baby It’s Cold Outside” and “All I Want for Christmas,” amid another dozen classics. But with new Christmas albums, you really should look for three things, unoriginality aside: commitment (almost every Christmas album is a money-grab, but it’s nice when the artist at least pretends it isn’t), and the more amorphous qualities of “appropriate vocals” and a real rendering of mood. Bing Crosby? He has the voice for Christmas songs. Mariah Carey? Of course. Tom Waits? Probably not. Cee-Lo has the vocals for a Christmas album too, and that’s part of the reason the album succeeds. Furthermore he sets the sort of cheesy, classic mood that a Christmas album requires. It’s familiar, predictable, and not very experimental. That’s just part of the charm. You don’t come to a Christmas album looking for Kid A.

Big Tree’s contribution to the crowded field of Christmas music is December, a quick ten-minute EP mixing originals with covers. The album is extremely spare, giving it a very homey, meditative vibe. The opener, “You Are My,” is an indie folk song masquerading as a Christmas song. Think Ingrid Michaelson or a less poppy Sara Bareilles. Ultimately, the album is successful in taking the indie folk sensibility and adjusting it to the holidays. It makes for a satisfying, if unexciting, set of songs. Capped off by a simple arrangement of “Silent Night,” this EP ultimately makes for an enjoyable, inoffensive soundtrack to your next holiday party. Just don’t expect to want to listen it after the 25th.

Rating: 7.3/10
MP3: Big Tree “You Are My”
Buy: iTunes or Amazon