June Christy

This Time of Year

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June Christy was always an exceptional vocalist steeped in cool jazz who had a knack for unearthing interesting songs and fostering under-recorded songwriters. With the unjustly neglected This Time of Year Christy decided to address the fact that every single Christmas album seems to feature the same few seasonal songs. This Time of Year is that rarest of things -- a winter concept album of all new material that can be listened to even when the holidays are over. While Christy had a sunny image, listeners sometimes confuse her upbeat blonde looks with her actual music; here she continues her propensity to explore the darker end of the emotional spectrum on what is basically the Only the Lonely of Christmas albums. The fact that the title track finds Christy singing, "I feel like a Christmas Cinderella/Trading in her fellah and her dreams" immediately clues you into the fact that this isn't exactly the kind of yuletide cheer that Andy Williams spreads. But the album isn't only a refreshing change of pace -- it succeeds on musical merits alone and master arranger Pete Rugolo (who was to June Christy what Nelson Riddle was to Frank Sinatra) contributes deceptively complex charts that support Christy beautifully. Of course, things get better for the lovelorn protagonist through the course of the album, but not before Christy reminds you that the forced joviality of Christmas can sometimes make you feel less, not more, connected to your fellow man. This Time of Year remains the Christmas album of choice for those who feel a little out of step with the holidays.

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