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.