Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Der Bingle's Essentials: Aimee Mann "One More Drifter in the Snow"

So, is it fair that I should include Aimee Mann's "One More Drifter in the Snow" as an Essential when I've had it in my collection for less than a year?

Yes, indeed it is.

I'd long had my eye on Ms. Mann's 2006 Christmas release, and had downloaded at least one of the songs previously, but it wasn't until a visit to Homer's Music and Gifts in Omaha, NE where I found a used copy of the CD and snatched it up along with several other holiday albums that it became part of my collection.  On the drive back to Kansas City from Omaha after an enjoyable couple of days with my daughter, I put "One More Drifter..." in the CD player and was instantly mesmerized at the beauty of the record (and a bit dismayed with myself for waiting so long to acquire it).

"One More Drifter in the Snow" features ten songs, most of them standards such as "The Christmas Song", "I'll Be Home for Christmas", "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch", and "Winter Wonderland".  (Modern classic "River" is included on a 2008 UK re-release).  There is one original, "Calling on Mary", co-written by Ms. Mann and Paul Bryan.

The opener, "Whatever Happened to Christmas" by Jimmy Webb is stunning and sets the tone for the album.  Aimee Mann's vocal style, inflection, and phrasing are unique, as any long-time fan knows.  This unmistakable style and approach to vocal performance is perfect for a soothing, flowing, rich holiday album.

A hallmark of a great Christmas album is when the performances of classics don't sound re-hashed or weirdly altered just for the sake of being different.  Aimee Mann's presentations of these songs are totally hers - joy from her heart and soul, expressed in Christmas music.


  1. What can I say? I like my classics "weirdly altered", even if its just "for the sake of being different". That said, I agree that "One More Drifter In The Snow" is a beautiful album and Aimee has one of the most affecting voices in music today. But, that said, I found the album a bit too consistently downbeat (bordering on depressing) for me to consider it essential. I get too much regret and not enough "joy from her heart and soul", here. And I'd really love it if she'd release a studio recording of that version of "Nes Gadol Hayah Sham" she did live with Ted Leo and Susanna Hoffs (done to the tune of "Walk Like An Egyptian"). I've got the full bootleg, but the sound leaves a lot to be desired. Now that tune should be essential. And, because I can't resist, my favorite Aimee Mann moment was her cameo on Buffy The Vampire Slayer. Her line? "Man, I hate playing vampire towns."

  2. I sure don't mind "weirdly altered" as long as there's some inspiration behind it (see the subsequent Substance W entry as evidence). I'm sure we've both heard our share (as well as many others' shares) of recordings of classics, both traditionally done and changed up significantly, that garnered a 'meh'. I'm quick to agree on point that variety and original interpretation make for the best annual comps :-)

    I'll have to go check out "Nes Gadol Hayah Sham" - I'm intrigued. Thanks Stubby!