travis tucker

Album Review: Christmas Gift - Various

Rainboot's Christmas Gift is a compilation truly in the spirit of the times... A set of fourteen understated, folky, Christmas influenced tracks where all of the takings go straight to a good cause - Save The Children.

For any label to do such a thing takes balls. For it to be a boutique such as Rain Boot is really rather generous (and brave) - they came to BlackPlastic's attention earlier this year when they put out the Whiskey Priest's superb Wave and Cloud. And that surprisingly blunt yet beautiful record is a good demonstration of what to expect.

This truly is the anti-X Factor. Whilst many in the UK alternative scene get behind John Cage's (rather excellent) '4:33' for Christmas number one most of the tracks on this album would make a much more fitting replacement. These are warts-and-all Christmas songs - the second act blues of A Charlie Brown Christmas, prior to the realisation of the true meaning of Christmas. It is the aural equivalent of turning your back on Argos, pulling your collar up and walking off into the cold, present-less, because all that really matters is who you spend it with (not what you spend it on).

There are certainly stronger and weaker moments here. Tyler Butler is battered and bruised on 'Waxwing' whilst The Animal Beat feel cautiously optimistic on 'Love Again'. Unsurprisingly, given the quality of Wave and Cloud, The Whiskey Priest delivers the gut-wrenching 'It Came Upon A Midnight Clear' and this contrasts with the beautifully coquettish 'Waiting To Find Me', from Sara Lewis. Where things stray into full on ballad territory is where BlackPlastic struggles a little - Travis Tucker's 'O Holy Night' is an epic Christmas song, it just feels a little over-delivered in contrast to the rest of the album.

Overall though you can't fault the package, and you certainly can't fault the sentiment. With all of the cover price going to a good cause we whole heartedly recommend you check out Christmas Gift.

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Christmas Gift is out now on Rainboot, visit the Rainboot site for details on where to buy (including a pay what you want option at Bandcamp).