Carol Noonan presents her third self-released album with the seasonal collection Christmas, which was partially financed by pre-orders from her fans. The D.I.Y. nature of her record-making career is belied by the quality of her recordings; Noonan has already turned out an album of originals, Self Titled, and one of covers, Big Iron, and Christmas is a good addition to her catalog. Noonan mostly sings traditional material to an acoustic accompaniment consisting largely of stringed instruments, with the occasional organ and Irish whistle for color. Her affecting voice is well-suited to the more sacred and formal of the Christmas carols, such as "I Wonder as I Wander," a song on which she often recalls Joan Baez, one of her chief influences. She includes three of her own compositions in the mix, including the autobiographical "Christmas of '64," the intimate and lyrical "Two Hours to Maine," and the melancholy Celtic/country-tinged "Christmas Is Here." For a finale, there is a live take of "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas," among the most bittersweet of the popular seasonal songs drawn from the hit parade and the movies, and therefore an appropriate choice for a singer who leans toward the more austere side of things, even when it comes to a celebratory event like Christmas. Noonan's admirers will not be surprised to discover that her take on holiday music is less than jolly (knowing her, you'd hardly expect "Jingle Bells"), but they are likely to be charmed nevertheless.
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