Chely Wright – Santa Will Find You
Some unfun people exaggerate their hatred of Christmas music. It’s as if hearing Carnie and Wendy Wilson belt out “Hey Santa!” for the umpteenth time this week finally pushed them over the edge. “It’s not even mid-December yet!,” they type furiously, with tear-strewn eyes and the barely comforting promise of multiple social media “likes.” For the rest of us, there’s always good music getting added to our beloved holiday playlist, exemplified this season by Chely Wright’s Santa Will Find You EP.
Wright, a fantastic songwriter known for the 1999 hit “Single White Female,” offers up five new songs dripping with the down-home vibes craved by her longtime fans and new listeners. The jubilant, horn-accompanied “Can’t Believe It’s Christmas,” two versions of the Phil Spector-style ’60s pop celebration “Christmas Isn’t Christmas Time” (featuring duet partner Richard Marx) and the gentle lullaby “Santa Will Find You” add touches of class and originality to country music’s seasonal songbook. Best of all, Wright channels the Carpenters and Burt Bacharach for the whimsical throwback “It Really Is (A Wonderful Life).”
The best addition to Wright’s repertoire, “Happy New Year, Old Friend,” does more than keep her in the holiday rotation for an extra week. It’s classy, piano-driven music: think a lounge singer version of Vince Guaraldi’s beloved songs about the Peanuts gang. If it wasn’t brand-new, it might already be in Jeffrey Bützer and friends’ holiday show.
For the cover art, Wright used what’s presumably a family photo, dated 1973. The vibe of this release owes a lot to music still relatively new in ’73, copying the sounds of the season from the singer’s own childhood. That’s not to timestamp songs that sound relevant in 2018 and should beckon new rounds of holiday cheer for years to come.
Santa Will Find You