Bright Eyes

A Christmas Album

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Originally issued in 2002 as a Saddle Creek store exclusive, the aptly titled Christmas Album begins with a piano, flute, ambient noise, and musical saw-driven version of "Away in a Manger," which will help weed out your basic yule jam fans who were just drawn in by the generic name, from the Bright Eyes/Conor Oberst disciples who know that the warmth of the holiday season is trumped only by its potential for melancholy. What follows is a sort of half-comforting, half-sad jamboree with Oberst and a small army of friends at his house playing through Christmas standards like "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas," "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen," and "Oh Little Town of Bethlehem," the latter of which, when delivered with Oberst's trademark tremble, sounds more like a lament from a filthy, near-suicidal pauper locked outside of the city's walls than it does a hymn of ecclesiastical joy. That said, the fragile, homespun, and largely insular vibe that permeates much of the album, provides a nice bit of contrast to other, less sonically humble seasonal offerings, and oddly enough, is probably more aligned with the true spirit of the season.

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