Leon Redbone - Christmas Island (1989)
You'll not find anything new under the sun on Leon Redbone's Christmas Island but you will find a laid back good time. As usual, the mysterious singer-musician doesn't stray very far from the old-timey, pre-World War Two style jazz-folk music he loves.
Banjo, upright bass, clarinet, and accordion all contribute to Redbone's low key vibe but he and his friends still manage to fashion a lively groove. Soft, acoustic music never felt so good as it does in the hands of Redbone and his band. It's obvious that they are having fun and his odd baritone is as enjoyable as ever. The result is a typical record from an off-beat and anachronistic artist who has somehow always appealed to the rock 'n roll generation.
There are plenty of old standards including "White Christmas," I'll Be Home For Christmas," "Let It Snow," "Winter Wonderland" and a few tunes that are less commonly heard during the holidays. "Toyland" (an odd choice on an album targeted at adults), "There's No Place Like Home For The Holidays," and the title song are welcome entries. Two rarities, "That Old Christmas Moon" and the "Christmas Ball Blues" (the latter features some excellent retro-clarinet) add some variety to the set.
Dr. John sounds as if he's having a whale of a great time contributing both piano and percussion while singing along with his host on "Frosty The Snowman." The Doctor's brief guest shot is one of the album's highlights.
Redbone doesn't overstay his visit. In fact, the album is a bit short. It's eleven songs take less than thirty minutes to play so if you're on a long road trip you need to bring some extra music along for the ride.