Kathy Griffin (Opera House, 30 November) – review

What would happen if overnight, or even instantly on air, all the presenters on all the vapid entertainment shows suddenly started saying what they really thought about the celebrities they report on day in, day out? Why, my friends, it already has (kind of) and this much needed phenomenon’s name is Kathy Griffin!

Simultaneously celebrated and reviled, depending on who you are, where you sit in the celebrity stratosphere, and how much of a sense of humour you possess, Kathy Griffin tells it like it is, and thank the pop culture gods for that! In a society where the media reports on celebrity news with the same breathless excitement they reserve for earthquakes, and dictators falling, it is so refreshing to have someone spill the beans, speak the truth and yet somehow not come out as bitchy or troubled. Somehow, Kathy Griffin manages to say the things we’re all thinking, do it far more hilariously than we ever could, and come out sounding just like anyone else around a really hip, fun water cooler.

Well, an ‘anyone else’ who inhabits almost the same rarefied air that the celebrities do which makes her pithy observations all the more amazing. This is a woman who hangs out with Cher – a story relating how neither she nor Cher had any idea how to order pizza delivery one night was priceless – is close friends with Joan Rivers, and yet still pulls off the deft acrobatic trick of being high in the pop culture firmament (despite her D-List protestations, which she has parlayed into a very funny reality series) while dissecting it with surgical precision.

The beauty of her stand up routine is that she is never truly nasty. Yes she has the audacity to suggest the gushy gossiping emperor has left the house without his designer threads, but she never ridicules his excessive weight gain or lack of oral hygiene. What she does do, whether it’s when she’s suggesting that Justin Bieber’s hairstyle has a certain lesbian chic, or that Oprah may be a tad too bombastic even if she is our supreme ruler and overlord, is articulate that, glittery though the pop culture firmament may be, that it’s inhabitants may sometimes throw themselves with abandon into the Land of the Truly Ridiculous. It may be intentional, with slick marketing precision backing it, like the Kardashians, or Oprah (who featured prominently in tonights show) or unintentional like a certain British-based movie star married to pop music royalty, but it is more than a little silly and Kathy Griffin has the audacity to say so.

She is often deliciously crass and profane doing so, but she is unflinchingly honest, daring political correctness to violate the restraining order and come near her. And that’s perhaps the central joy of her routine. In a time when we are all strait-jacketed by the twin evils of excessive political correctness, and over the top celebrity worship, she busts down the door like a SWAT team in funky jeans and tight T’s and gives us permission to laugh at the sheer silliness of that which we are instructed to treat with due toadying deference.

She does tiptoe close to the edge of the abyss of Gone Too Far – hell she runs up to it, gives it a French kiss and demands to make garishly-clad celebrity babies with it! – and you’re thinking ‘No you did not!’ but then you laugh and realise it feels damn good. Perhaps you’re courting disaster to talk about doing a stand up routine in front of a largely deaf audience and imitate their laughing, or describe your dog eating a used condom recently filled by your 33 year old toy boy (she’s 51 and jokingly described her new relationship as ‘shameful’) but it is funny, and thank the gods, it is honest, and we’re all the better for it.

… oh, and apparently Oprah Winfrey discovered Australia. Who knew?

Ceremonials – Florence and The Machine (review)

This is an album of astonishing vocal and melodic beauty.

Florence Welch, who dazzled us with her ability to wrap her voice about the most exquisite of emotional textures on Lungs, returns with an album that ranges from the intensely intimate and heartfelt to the epic and anthemic. At times, her voice powers through the songs with the intensity of a fiery Annie Lennox. At other times, it captures a winsomeness reminiscent of Kate Bush. But at every turn, her songs, populated by some of the smartest lyrics I have heard in some time, is entirely her own, suffused with passion, urgency and longing.

She has been accused by some detractors of sounding ‘too big’, which is an odd way of sounding her songs are too multi-layered and she sounds like a thousand urgent women all screaming in unison. But I find this perplexing since what Florence Welch gives us is an album that is all about passion, of wrestling with good and evil (‘Seven Devils’), and of struggling with the enormity of the sacrifices made for love (‘What the Water Gave Me’), and that sort of material demands a great big all-enveloping sound. Preferably augmented by any and all the bells and whistles (and harps) you want to throw in. Does it sound tribal and church-ey in equal measure? Yes, but this works for the songs which don’t skirt along the surface of human experience, but dive in with abandon asking big questions, articulating confusion, joy and sadness and all delivered courtesy of Florence’s goose-bump inducing powerhouse vocals.

This is a bombastic, full-on album but that is not meant as a pejorative. It shouts from the rooftops that life has a lot of questions that need answering, and great struggles that we will win or lose, and Florence + The Machine try to address them, even if answers aren’t always in ample supply. It is one of those rare albums where the substance of the lyrical intent matches the melodic passion, and it will stay with you for a good deal longer than those artists who stay small and unseen, tinkering on the edges.

Ides of March (review)

Purity of belief is a powerful thing.

It undergirds the faithful, drives the true believer and blinds the zealot. It is a virtue. It is a liability. It is the catalyst for war and the handmaiden of peace…

… and it is a stranger to the art of politics, which speaks of belief in all things high and mighty, but dips as low as it has to on an almost continual basis. And it is this very thing which almost undoes Stephen Meyers (Ryan Gosling), the central figure in this brilliantly executed tale about the quest for power, who works as a media advisor in the Presidential campaign of Governor Mike Morris. He works tirelessly for a man he believes is the embodiment of all the things he holds sacred, even stating at one point that he is married to the campaign. More disillusioned colleagues gently mock his untainted devotion to a man who they believe is eminently fallible since he is, after all, a politician, but Stephen will not listen.

In a way it is refreshing that he holds onto his noble belief in the pursuit of power since he stands as a man of true ideals among a crowd of diminished toilers in the black art of politics. But you soon realise that while he isn’t listening to his jaundiced colleagues, he also isn’t paying any heed to the voice within. He makes a subtle compromise here, a small but ultimately significant mistake there, and before he knows it, he is sliding down a slippery slope that may lead to the death of the innocent abroad, if he ever truly existed in the first place. Its true that he does hold strongly, and with a purity of belief to the laudable ideals he espouses, but he is blind to the fact that he has set out on the same compromised path as his colleagues, and so his fall, such as it is, is all the more tragic since he doesn’t it coming.

This movie, which also features fine performances by Evan Rachel Wood as the ingenue and intern, Molly , Phillip Seymour Hoffman as Morris’s campaign director, Paul Zara, and Paul Giamatti as a rival campaign director, deconstructs the pursuit of political power in a subtle way, never resorting to in-your-face tactics to make its point. Indeed, it is the slow deadly narrative reveal that continues right up till the end that proves much more powerful a lesson than a slap in the face ever would.

It is a cautionary tale that we should all heed. Believe all you want, and hold fast to that which you believe, but always remain aware that we are all fallible, and and that purity of belief can curse as much as it can bless.

Happy Birthday in a million pretty pixels

It’s my birthday tomorrow. (Thank you, thank you, your warm wishes are greatly appreciated… and not at all solicited)

So it got me thinking. Not just about cake, and how far I have to run (Ecuador? Burkina Faso? The moon?) to burn off enough calories in preparation for the all weekend celebrations that are planned. No, besides thoughts of me ballooning up several hundred extra clothes sizes, I wondered which of my favourite TV characters (or even those for whom I wouldn’t even go shopping at Wal-Mart for a gift) had celebrated a birthday on the show they’re on, and how they’d done it. Which is of course what anyone would do prior to their birthday, and so I am. It’s my birthday and I will blog about random self-serving topics if I want to…

Now it turns out that birthdays, are a reasonably popular topic for an episode of a TV show because it allows writers to bring the cast together in way that doesn’t look forced – I mean we spend our lives at birthday celebrations, eating and drinking… and then running to celestial bodies to wear it all off – and explore an issue that wouldn’t otherwise be examined if the characters weren’t together, or may take much longer to play out. Or it allows a character to confront any number of issues that pop up when a birthday, any birthday, occurs (popular with characters celebrating milestone birthdays or the death of another characters who was integral to their celebrations.) Or in the case of sitcoms it’s a chance to unleash the hounds of chaotic mirth as a relatively simply event spirals out of control, and one or more characters don’t quite get what they bargained for, and perhaps, learnt a lesson of some sort.

Yes, birthdays are a great hook on which to hang all manner of great plot devices and here’s some shows I love it that have done it well…


Episode : The One With Phoebe’s Birthday (first aired 31 October 2002 in USA)

The gang gets together to celebrate Phoebe’s birthday, much to Phoebe’s excitement since recent change in each of their lives means get togethers are an increasingly rare event. Ross and Rachel now have their daughter Emma, and Monica and Chandler are trying to have a baby, which doesn’t leave a whole lot of room to sit around and talk like they used to. But naturally things do not go according to plan, with Ross and Rachel locked outside their apartment while Emma is inside (cue panic on an epic scale), and Monica and Chandler decide to try to make a baby despite arguing and being late for the birthday dinner. All these events leave Phoebe and Joey alone at a restaurant, and though everyone does inevitably turn up, Phoebe isn’t impressed and makes other plans for her big night.

This was one episode that really did what Friends did so well – it showed these characters as fallible people who don’t get everything right (but we can relate since we often fail to live up to our own glorious expectations) which gets us laughing in recognition. But while we are laughing we also realise the poignant truth – life is moving on for these Friends as it does for everyone, and things won’t ever be the same again.


Episode : Hyde’s Birthday (first aired 23 April 2002 in USA)

When Kitty discovers that Hyde has never had a proper birthday party (being an orphan will do that to you), she decides to throw him one, and orders Fez and Jackie to to the decorating while she gets busy making cupcakes by the truckload. Meanwhile, the rest of the gang brainstorm the perfect 18th birthday present for Hyde and decide that the obvious choice is a street sign, which leads to all sorts of (mostly illegal) fun as they tried to obtain one. Hyde resists having any sort of party since his stock-in-trade is emotional aloofness, but a stern talking to by Red persuades him to go, and everyone seems to have a good time.

Hyde was always the bad boy of the group, the one who kept everyone safely at an emotional arm’s length and didn’t give too much away. The fact that people knows his birthday unsettles him; even more so that they are planning a party for him (it’s supposed to be a secret but Kitty inadvertently gives the game away in the midst of her cupcake-making frenzy). But once he’s persuaded to go by Red, he possibly, maybe, kind of enjoys it. Truth be told, you never really know since he doesn’t break into a crying ball of gratefulness but he does grow a little, even if it is at the end of a tongue-lashing from Red, and then only grudgingly. But he does grow a little and once again it’s a milestone birthday that’s the catalyst for it.


Episode : Home Front (first aired September 2007)

No gathering of the Walkers, the clan that alternates between suffocating closeness, and icy distance, is ever without drama, and their attempt to draw together and celebrate Kitty’s birthday is no different. Sarah’s marriage is imploding despite her best efforts, Justin is in Iraq inn possible mortal danger, Tommy struggles to support his wife after the death of their new born son, and Rebecca, and Saul struggle with major issues of their own. In short there is a lot going on!

This show always worked well when everyone was together. Now granted they usually gathered as one at the drop of a hat since Nora had a great and ongoing love of dinner parties held in honour of any occasion, but it was the milestone event gatherings that usually worked well since the stakes were usually higher. Now no one really walks away from this birthday celebration with everything resolved, and they are still hurting from the death of the family patriarch a year earlier, but the birthday, as always, is a great excuse to bring them all together a year after a traumatic event, and reflect on how that has affected them, and how they can move forward burdened though they are with present troubles. In short, it shows them coping with life much like any other family would – well with probably a tad more wine consumed than most! – and that’s by being together, for better or worse.


Episode : Unpredictable (first aired 24 July 2007)
It is never a dull day in the town of Eureka, home to the beyond brilliant scientific community that works at Global Dynamics nearby, the world’s most advanced scientific research facility, and this day is no different. Zoe, the daughter of Sheriff Jack Carter is turning 16 but what should be a normal birthday celebration is naturally anything but. Carter’s ex-wife Abby turns up, and after the Sheriff is done saving Eureka from a rogue weatherman who’s created a localised ice age, she informs him that she’s taking Zoe back to Los Angeles.
Admittedly the birthday is almost incidental to the main plot which involves Sheriff Carter once again saving the town from the misguided actions of one of its best and brightest. But it provide an important forum for Jack to express how much he has come to love being a hands-on dad, and having Zoe close by after years of estrangement. Similarly Zoe has gone from being an out-of-control wild child to a mostly dutiful, if occasionally rebellious teen, and has found a home and a wider family in the town, and that’s why Abby’s announcement shocks both Jack and Zoe since it threatens to rob them of the very thing they have both come to value, to I think their pleasant surprise, so much.

Should someone like the pepper spraying cop be a meme*?

That may seem like an odd question but hear me out.

Ever since Lt John Pike assured himself of almost instant viral infamy by pepper spraying peacefully protesting students at the University of California, he has been pilloried by Netizens who have gleefully ridiculed him for his controversial tactics. But while I can understand ridiculing a man who clearly should have thought through what he was about to do before he did it, and on one level, share the mirth of his many creative detractors, I feel uncomfortable making light of what is a serious situation.

Yes he exercised extraordinarily poor judgement, and I hope he is appropriately dealt with as any use of excessive force is to be deplored, but my concern is for the protesters, and the movement they are involved in. Specifically that while we are making fun of him, we are forgetting that what is happening at the University of California, and throughout the world, is the face of a serious worldwide questioning of what it means to be an active participant in today’s society. You may disagree vehemently with what the protestors stand for, and that is your right, but it’s a still a major shift away from the obsession with material prosperity that has characterised Western society through much of the recent decade or two, and should be eclipsed as a serious topic by a meme gone wild.

Perhaps I am being too precious, and I should be laughing harder and longer at this officer (I am amused, trust me, as my inclusion of some of the meme pics below illustrates) and his over the top tactics since ridicule is an age old way of highlighting injustices, and just plain stupid acts. But we also need to make sure that the viral campaign of ridicule doesn’t obscure the more series issues at play, and that the ridicule achieves its intent which is ultimately to hold this police officer, and the establishment hierarchy to account.

I love pop culture, and the way the internet has democratised debate of all kinds, but it has also trivialised all manner of issues when the ridicule effectively became the tail wagging the dog. I will laugh along with you pepper spraying cop meme propagators for you are doing a good and noble thing, but remember why you are doing it, and we can all laugh and then bask in the glow of justice done.

*meme is “an idea, behaviour or style that spreads from person to person within a culture.” / An Internet meme is an idea that is propagated through the World Wide Web. The idea may take the form of a hyperlink, video, picture, website, hashtag, or just a word or phrase. (Wikipedia)

50 Words for Snow – Kate Bush (review)

A new album from Kate Bush, her second this year (which is amazing given the six years since Aerial) and I am in love all over again.

Of course, I have loved Kate Bush with a peculiar passion ever since my first drama lesson with Mrs Derritt in Year 7 (1978). She adored Kate Bush and used her music to get us in the mood for all sorts of out-of-our-comfort-zone acting exercises, and it worked wonderfully well. I don’t know what it was but hearing “Wuthering Heights” or “The Man With a Child in Her Eyes” calmed us all down, and drew us into a zen-like place, and the room quietened down quickly, which was damn near miraculous for a room full of newbie teenagers. Clearly Mrs Derritt knew what she was doing after years of dealing with hormone-fuelled 13 year olds and it’s a lesson I will remember should I ever need to quieten a room of restive Year 8s, but the greater gift she gave me was an appreciation for the music of Kate Bush, something I will always be grateful for.

Yes Kate Bush is as quirky and idiosyncratic as they come but that is part of the attraction for me. She refuses to play by the usual rules of the music business, releasing music when it suits her, which is maddening for fans who want regular doses of her ethereally beautiful songs, but perfect for her since she creates art when it is ready to come forth. You get the feeling almost instantly that these songs are perfectly ready, and have arrived at the right time, and in the exact form that Kate intended them to take. None of them feels like it shouldn’t be there, and all of them explore the concept of snow, a loose theme running throughout, in their own perfectly formed way, with Kate’s offbeat but intelligent and evocative lyrics paired with the melodies that carry them aloft like they have always been together, and will be for eternity.

Another thing she refuses to do is release radio-friendly length songs (at least now), which isn’t a massive issue since it’s unlikely the myopic teen pop heavy play lists of commercial radio would accommodate her anyway, and nowhere is this on better display than her new album. It only has seven songs but each of them run for anywhere between 9 and 13 minutes, and meander with a casual grace so beguiling you don’t begrudge a second of it. She allows the song to unfurl like flowers greeting the morning sun, finding their place and melody at an unhurried pace that soothes the soul, and draws you into a cosy world of ambient beauty, and that is her greatest talent I think.

She is unafraid to languidly draw you in. This is an album that, while beautiful and entrancing from the first notes of “Snowflake”, through to the spine-chilling sweep of “Among Angels” takes its time to fully envelop you, and in a world as hurried and rushed as ours, hostage to sound bites, and 15 second ads, that is a very good thing. It uses some light brushes of electronica from time to time, but mostly utilises Kate’s delicate piano-playing and emotionally-rich voice to run the gamut of emotions from trying to find love, mourning lost love, and even hunting for wild men. The delight of her voice, as always, is how emotionally complex it is. You could easily dismiss its breathy floating tenor as inconsequential if it weren’t so gorgeously suffused with the most complete palette of emotions that I have ever heard from any artist. I cannot listen to any album of this musical genius (because that’s what she is) and not have my emotions be affected in ways that many of the current popettes can only dream about.

This is an album with little of the standard modern pop elements to recommend it – no snappy quick 3 minutes bursts of sound and fun (save for “Wild Man” which is as close to a single as this album gets) or easily accessible songs that burrow their way into your brain almost instantly – but I care not. For what it does have is an artistry and a beauty, and an emotional resonance that will reward you taking the time to explore it, and once inside your soul, will never stop affecting you for a moment. It is deep, pure, gorgeous and delightful.

This album is an experience, a work of art that will delight you in ways you cannot even begin to contemplate, and you must give into it, and let you become part of you. You won’t regret it for a moment.

Wild Man single edit

The changing face of television

“I’m freeee!”

This is instantly recognisable to anyone over 35 as the less than subtle catchphrase of Mr Humphries, the flamboyant menswear salesman from the 1970s British sitcom, “Are You Being Served?”(1972-1985). Though he was never explicitly identified as a gay man, it was clear from his mannerisms and innuendo-laden dialogue that he was, in fact, a friend of Dorothy. The writers clearly believed that the best way to identify him as a gay man without coming out (no pun intended) and saying so, was to trade on the obvious gay cliches. While there wasn’t anything deeply offensive about it since British TV of the time used cliches for every group in society as their stock in trade for cheap laughs, it was reflective of peoples’ perceptions that all gay men were like this.

Of course a great number of people still think all gay men are like this, and that’s largely because the media, stuck in weird 1970s creative time loop they seem loathe to escape, perpetuates this idea. Naturally there are gay men who fit the cliche like a tight piece of spandex, and since it’s who they authentically are, they should be represented and be seen for the fabulously flamboyant characters they are. But it’s not who all gay men are, and finally TV is cottoning on to that fact and showing the full spectrum of gay types.
Shows as diverse as “Will and Grace”, “Mad About You”, “ER”, “In Treatment”, “Weeds”, and “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” have all included, or currently include gay characters who are as complicated and well drawn as their straight counterparts, which of course, they are. It is refreshing to have gay characters in shows now that are not simply cartoonish stereotypes that do little but provide easy laughs with precious little sense given of who the person is. It is encouraging too that many of these characters are integral to the shows they are a part of, and not simply an amusing, or perplexing oddity popping in now and then when it suits the writers. Their lives are treated as no different to any other characters, and it is good, as a gay man, to see myself mirrored on the shows I like to watch (by actors who are far better looking than I’ll ever be!)
This trend, which began in earnest in the 1990s when “Will and Grace” was help up as the standard bearer for its (mostly) realistic portrayal of two gay men, and their close female friends, has gathered pace spectacularly in the Noughties with many shows now so routinely including gay characters that it is barely remarked upon now by media commentators.
You get an idea of how far we’ve come when you read a recent feature on Advocate.com (a gay media site that covers everything from media to societal trends to hard hitting issues) that asked its readers who their favourite gay characters are. The response showed beautifully that not only are we spoilt for choice when casting our eyes around for positive (and not so positive) gay representation in TV but that so many of these shows are incorporating their characters so fully into the world they create. People will only love a character when they make sense, and most characters only make sense when they emerge from the stereotype closet, and are allowed to be a complete part of the world they inhabit. Clearly as this poll shows there is a lot to love!
We should be excited by the maturity with which gay characters are now shown and I can’t wait to see what the creative types in TV get to do next!

Just listened to…


Or more precisely my three favourite songs off their last time, Nightworks, which has been out awhile now, but is still the perfect soundtrack to pounding the footpath early in the morning as I exercise in the hope of shrinking down to the size of my twenty year old self (it hasn’t happened yet!). The three songs that truly make the walks fly by, and which I will happily listen to over and over in a gloriously repetitive aural orgy are Skin Tight (a tribute to intimate love, not sex), Sex and Violence, and Nightlife. I love the entire album truth be told, but it is these three songs that truly hit the sonic mark, and carry my feet over the 6 or so kilometres I usually cover at 5 in the morning… and let’s face it, that early in the morning, when dawn and I usually cross paths, a boy need all the driving beats he can get!

Skin Tight
Sex and Violence


Glee done got its mojo back….mostly

Have you ever become fast and firm friends with someone who has charmed and delighted you every step of the way till one day they make an almost insulting remark, or appear disinterested in what you have to say, before bouncing back the next day as if nothing ever happened?

Sure you have. It isn’t something any of us enjoy, but people being the contrary beasties that they are, can often send mixed signals when what we crave is caring consistency. Still, you hope and pray that those who you truly madly deeply care for will be there staunchly the same day in and day out, come what may.

The same thing applies, let’s be honest to the media we consume. Yes we want our music artists to grow and change, and our TV shows to experiment and boldly go place no TV show has gone before, but we want to stay consistently mind-blowingly good while they do it.

I would like to say that Glee managed to do this during their sophomore season but alas they didn’t and while I watched every episode, I found a number of them  disappointing to watch to the extent that it took a lot of effort to complete the season. Characters didn’t play true to type or became discordant one-joke caricatures (thinking Sue Sylvester), romantic entanglements approached almost Melrose Place levels of silliness (by the end of the season everyone had pretty much dated everyone it seemed) and the story lines were often pointless, or just plain mean-spirited and aimless. I just didn’t enjoy watching it any more, a horrifying realisation at the time since I had adored this show almost from the first frame of the pilot.

Apparently I was not alone, and the creators of Glee, Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk realised that they have lost their way somewhat and to their credit admitted as much. In fairness to them, it must be exhausting producing 24 hours of television a season and making sure that you stay right on course though all of it. But I think the basis of the criticism was that they didn’t just veer off a little bit, but they went careering off over the fields, threw away the map and hoped they would eventually find the road again.

Well fortunately they have not just found the road, but are screaming down the freeway, and Glee is back doing what it does so well – telling stories about a bunch of musically-inclined misfits in a high school trying to find their way in life, and singing as they do it. Yes it does have a slight air of been-there-done-that but that is inevitable to some extent, and hardly detracts from the freshly reclaimed vibe the show has in spades. Yes Sue is still a tad too one-joke for my liking, but then they have tried to broaden her character out on occasion which has worked well, and I guess they are counting on viewers remembering those moments she displayed a humanity other that wasn’t verging on the cartoonish. But Rachel and Kurt are still dreaming of the bright lights of Broadway, Finn is back with Rachel, and Kurt and Blaine are closer than ever.

So frankly what’s t complain about? They are singing and dancing and back to being the bright shiny friends we know and love, and it’s great to have them back!

On the first day of Christmas: Christmas – Michael Buble (review)

I am standing on a crowded train platform in inner west Sydney, sweat slowly trickling down my back, and yet thanks to this perfect Christmas album, I feel like I am walking the snow covered streets of Christmasville (I am sure there is such a place) with chestnuts roasting nearby and holly wreaths on every day.

It started feeling like that from almost the first note of It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas when the silky smooth voice of Mr Buble, which radiates all the happy warmth you could possibly want, slid with festive ease and grace into my morning commute-weary ears. It continued on with every track following, with even Jingle Bells and All I Want For Christmas is You (yes Mariah’s very own!) possessing a quiet joy-inducing festive air.

Naturally the album contains Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas which is, I would argue the heart and soul of any festive collection. I know the lyrics are melacholic to a degree, which makes sense given the song’s original context, but somehow Michael, more than anyone I know, strikes that perfect balance between wistful longing and here-and-now contentment, which suits the song perfectly.

He is savvy enough to then follow with the peppy fun of Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) which is jaunty and upbeat but suffused with a sadness that his beloved may not come home even with all his pleading. He once again strikes a delicate balance between hope and resignation. You would think it would be a low emotional point in the album, but he sings it in such a way that the optimism somehow triumphs over the harsh reality his love likely won’t find her way to his side for Christmas.

And that is what makes or breaks a Christmas album for me. Call it the ‘warm and fuzzy’ factor if you will, but a collection of seasonal tunes must radiate the sense that, regardless of the harsh realities screaming in your beleaguered face, that this Christmas will be exactly like the perfect postcard version you want to believe is possible.

I am fortunate that I have a warm, caring family who makes Christmas a joyful time of reunion, as does my partner, so I am not desperately needing a Christmas album to conjure up a candy cane and tinsel saturated reality that my own life simply can’t manage. Even so, life is never perfect for anyone, including me, and an album as perfectly rich and warm as Mr Buble’s makes the frantic, and the dull, just that little bit more magical than they would otherwise be.

And that is why I urge you to get this album, load it into whatever listening device floats your 21st century portable music boat, and drift away into a world where I’ll Be Home For Christmas, sung with a sweet expectation that all will be well this Christmas, will make even sardine-can like sweating on a Cityrail train seem joyful and trascendant.

Well almost…