Sheila Landis

Winter Wonderland

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It was only a matter of time before the dynamic duo of singer Sheila Landis and guitarist Rick Matle made a Christmas album. Ten albums preceded this one, but they finally made it. Like all of their predecessors, there are a few wrinkles on this album, all perfectly acceptable and respectful to this special time of year. No matter what genre or style of music Landis and Matle apply their considerable talents to, one can expect a result that is both compelling and impressive, and this album is thankfully no exception. Contrasting with an elegant "Winter Wonderland," where Landis' sole accompaniment is Matle's acoustic guitar, is a reprise of a rocking "I Need to Believe" from their The Bird Inside album, where they put the poetry of Margo La Gattuta to music. Landis puts to use her special blend of wordless and lyrical vocalizing on "Greensleeves (What Child Is This?)." "Silver Bells" gets a blues/R&B coating, albeit a somewhat moderated application of the blues. "Let It Snow, Let It Snow" gets some Latin beats on the woodblock and guitar by Matle before it turns into an upbeat scatting swinger. "White Christmas" belongs to Matle's unplugged guitar and is an appropriate coda to the album. The play list includes "My Favorite Things," not generally thought of as a holiday anthem, but which seems appropriate for the time of year since its lyrics are a kind of wish list. Finally, to complete the stylistic cycle, there's a honky tonk rendition of "Merry Christmas Baby," replete with smeary guitar. This a fun album with a dollop of solemnity, and is recommended.

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