It's unlikely that this is the holiday album Jars of Clay would have created when they first started asking their record label for the chance. With the band's sound evolving from glossy alternative folk-pop to experimental synth rock, their approach to their first full-length Christmas record evolved as well. Other changes contributed, too. After 12 years, the band fulfilled its contract with Essential Records and parted ways, immediately setting up shop as an indie act under the Nettwerk umbrella. Frontman Dan Haseltine reported that the band had wanted to do a Christmas album ever since 1995's four-song EP Little Drummer Boy, but label execs kept it from materializing. The only limit to their creativity now, it seemed, was deciding how deeply to reach into the repertoire of traditional holiday music and how much original material to infuse. Thankfully, the quartet came up with just the right mix of old and new fare, all thickly coated in textured synth layers and drum loops. The result is a highly nontraditional treatment of holiday themes, though one that will suit fans of the band from almost any era.
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AllMusic Review by Jared Johnson