Jacqui Naylor

Smashed for the Holidays

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With one foot in vocal jazz and the other in the world of singer/songwriters, folk-rock and adult alternative, Jacqui Naylor has never been easy to categorize -- and Smashed for the Holidays doesn't make her any easier to pin down. Not that it needs to; the fact that Naylor is so original and so hard to pigeonhole is a definite plus, and her risk-taking nature remains very much in evidence on this 2007 release. The title, Smashed for the Holidays is a clever double-entendre; those unfamiliar with her background will see that title and think of inebriation during the holiday season, but Naylor's fans will also think of what she calls "acoustic smashing" (her way of combining elements of different songs). However, this unorthodox Christmas album isn't always acoustic-oriented; parts of it are very amplified, including "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town" (which combines that Christmas standard with the melody of Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Sweet Home Alabama"). Elsewhere, Naylor blends the lyrics of Christmas standards with Led Zeppelin melodies, employing "Babe, I'm Gonna Leave You" on "What Child Is This" and "D'yer Mak'er" on "Santa Baby" as well as "When the Levee Breaks" on "We Three Kings." Some parts of Smashed for the Holidays definitely rock (perhaps those parts could be called "electric smashing"), but the intimate, acoustic-oriented approach that Naylor is known for is very much in evidence on the Kinks' "Father Christmas" and jazz-minded performances of "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" and Mel Tormé's "The Christmas Song." And whether a performance is more rock-minded or more jazz-minded, Naylor's stubbornly individualistic personality always comes through on Smashed for the Holidays -- which may very well go down in history as the most adventurous Christmas album of 2007.

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