Aimee was apparently aiming for a "Mel Torme, Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, loungy, sort of Julie London" holiday album instead of a "groovy modern" one, and the results are more inspired than many of her non-holiday releases during the 2000s. She covers all the torch classics like Mel's "Christmas Song", "White Christmas","I'll Be Home For Christmas", "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas", and Jimmy Webb's "Whatever Happened To Christmas" (made famous by Frank Sinatra).
After this, she adds a couple of original tunes in a similar style: "Christmastime" (co-written with her husband Michael Penn) and this song "Calling On Mary" which ends the album on a Linus in the auditorium coda. "Lights, please.."
This weekend I went to the release party for Scott Miller's "Music: What Happened?" book, and noticed that Scott listed "Calling On Mary" as one of his favorite songs of 2006.
."Calling On Mary," despite a lost-love motif that can function as attenuation, seems to mean more or less the real thing: calling on her who intervenes for the repentant. "When I was young I couldn't see/All that my true love gave to me" is pretty believable as late-acquired self knowledge. That "Merry Christmas, Merry Christmas" refrain really sticks in your head.
One of Scott's last public performances before this weekend was performing with Aimee Mann in her 2006 One More Drifter In The Snow holiday cavalcade.