I admit that I am not a fan of the holidays, but one tradition in which I occasionally partake is the consumption of the Advent calendar. It’s not bad. Starting on December 1st, you get a chocolate a day until Christmas, and if you don’t care much about time or order you can have a bunch of chocolate on any given day and then just get yourself another Advent calendar. We should have these things for every month of the year!
So I have taken a subliminally chocolatey pleasure in Halifax–based singer-songwriter David Myles’s multimedia Advent calendar, which has been a fun way of promoting his new record, It’s Christmas. Every day this December—with the help of Mat Dunlap, who was the man with the plan—Myles and company have posted another little treat: segments on the making of the record, instructional videos (e.g. how to tie a bowtie), family chowder recipes, sheet music, music videos, etc.
As Myles explains, it was the how-to videos that were the most fun to make: “I felt like we had a pretty clear idea of the vibe we were going for, and that allowed us to just totally make it up as we went along. They weren’t rehearsed or written out, so they are kind of scrappy, but that’s what made ’em fun for me.”
You get a sense that this record was fun to make, too. It feels warm and spontaneous, Myles’s voice sounding strong and dexterous, and the masterful band of Maritimers behind him (Kyle Cunjak, Alan Jeffries, and Van Tassel) has brought the party. Jumping from genre to genre (lush symphonic pop, bluegrass, gospel, jazz and more), I dare say that this is not just nice background music for obligatory get-togethers, but a good record.
“For me, making a good Christmas album meant taking it as seriously as any other record I’ve made,” Myles says. “The best Christmas albums aren’t novelty albums. It’s really important that they aren’t just pathetic attempts at making money. It’s easy for them to look that way so you you’ve really got to go out of your way to make something sincere, unique and meaningful.” With fresh takes on old standards, and some hot new originals (“Santa Never Brings Me A Banjo” is a total earworm), It’s Christmas is the kitchen party of contemporary seasonal recordings.
Henry Adam Svec had his heart grow three sizes while writing this.