With this album, Irish singer and songwriter Tommy Sands makes an interesting and generally successful attempt to create a Christmas mood without recourse to traditional Christmas songs. Instead, he has written a program of songs that deal with childhood Christmas memories, themes of hospitality and welcome, and the story of Jesus' birth. The most ambitious song is the lead track, the awkwardly titled "Like the First Time It's Christmas Time," which obliquely addresses Ireland's troubled political history while expressing hope in the context of the Christmas season; the most ill-fitting song is an absolutely surreal cover version of "Whiter Shade of Pale." Everything else falls somewhere in between, and all of it is quite nice. Highlights include a great version of the traditional "Matt Hyland" and a lovely original song of parting titled "Slan Abhaile." There is also a humorous -- if hardly Christmasy -- duet with Dolores Keane called "The Mixed Marriage." Maybe not utterly essential, but very nice all in all.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Rick Anderson