Christmas albums have an inevitability about them. It doesn't matter if the artist is better known for multiple stays in rehab or salacious hip-rolling than warming the family hearth with song. If they have a notion to pull on a festive Santa hat, they're gonna do it. The appropriateness (or the quality) of the results be damned. Thus, the history of the American recording industry includes the Olsen Twins contributing their undistinguished schoolgirl voices to a strangely metallic "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree" and Clarence Carter proclaiming the, uh, prowess of a "Back Door Santa."
Which brings me to Scottish spunkette KT Tunstall's game attempt at bringing holiday cheer to FM stations everywhere. On the upside, the chunky, quasi-Motown take on "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)" is suitably drenched in nostalgia for the kind of cozy, eggnog-assisted snogging grandma and grandpa engaged in back when "White Christmas" was first a hit. On the downside, her treatment of Shaun McGowan's "Fairytale of New York" is meant as a tough slice of Celtic irony but falls far short of the late Kirsty MacColl's bittersweet version with the Pogues. Her other "ethnic" Christmas tune, the Waikiki rocker "Mele Kalikimaka (Christmas in Hawaii)," is entertaining enough, with snatches of jaunty marimba and kazoo goosing the already buoyant vocal. But I'm still not sure what it's doing here. I guess maybe she has a condo in Maui.