A freshly sung Christmas

Published 11:50 am Friday, December 20, 2013

Nick Lowe’s “Quality Street: A Seasonal Selection for All the Family” doesn’t reinvent the wheel, but it’s certainly a breath of fresh air.

On his first Christmas album, Lowe sets aside the nostalgia — well, most of the of the time — for an upbeat rockabilly romp that doesn’t rely on the typical formula and classic songs.

For the most part, Lowe’s tracks don’t sound like traditional Christmas songs. They’re more straight-ahead, throwback rock ‘n’ roll. The most well-known holiday song, “Silent Night,” sounds more like a jaunty beach tune than a winter dirge. But listen to the lyrics: They are Christmas songs.

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The idea of a Christmas album reportedly took Lowe a little getting used to. In fact, his label pitched the idea to him, and he agreed with a little reluctance.

Aside from “Silent Night,” none of these songs are holiday classics, but several are ones many people have heard at some point.

Lowe relies heavily on rockabilly on the spiritual “Children Go Where I send Thee,” the 1950s tune “North Pole Express” and Ron Sexsmith’s playful “Hooves on the Roof.”

The album thrives in that it mixes Christmas songs with Lowe’s originals like “Christmas At the Airport,” which he wrote a few days after agreeing to record the album.

While most of the album sets aside the nostalgia for upbeat and often playful rockabilly, tunes like Eddie Arnold’s “Christmas Can’t Be Far Away” and “Old Toy Trains” allow the reminiscent Christmas spirit into the mix.

While most of these songs may not make their way onto mainstream holiday Christmas stations, they provide a pleasant alternative to the typical melody-driven, often somber Christmas songs listeners are inundated with this time of year.