Christmas Album: Peggy Lee <!-- none onestar twostar threestar fourstar fivestar -->

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The Independent Culture

The kind of hipster alteration of well-known festive standards that Lou Rawls struggled to effect on Merry Christmas, Baby are achieved with languid ease by Peggy Lee here, without any embarrassment or over-egging. The opening "I Like a Sleighride", for instance, is basically just "Jingle Bells" with a group of female backing singers chipping in a syncopated counterpoint of the new title-phrase in between Lee's lines, adding an understated touch of jazz cool; the same strategy is later applied to "Santa Claus is Coming to Town", although Lee's delivery is sufficiently cool not to need the additional jazzing-up. Lee, a fine songwriter herself, adds a few extra songs to the Christmas canon, though they're a far cry from her "Fever": "Christmas Carousel", "The Tree" and "Don't Forget to Feed the Reindeer" all shuffle seasonal clichés incompetent but formulaic manner. But elsewhere her touch is faultless, with definitive versions of standards such as "Little Drummer Boy", "Winter Wonderland" and even "White Christmas" illuminated by the faintest breath of husky, sensuous cool she brings to performances.

DOWNLOAD THIS: 'Winter Wonderland', 'I Like a Sleighride', 'Little Drummer Boy'