Some of the best known Christmas songs are pretty melancholy, if you listen to them closely enough. Try settling in for the night on Christmas Eve with “I’ll be home for Christmas, if only in my dreams” in your head, and do you think you’ll sleep soundly? Nah. It’s a downright depressing sentiment at a time when everything is supposed to be joyous and bright. And that’s ok, because not everything is joyous and bright, even at the holidays, and it’s ok to feel that and even to sit with it a while.
Aimee Mann’s Christmas record, “One More Drifter In The Snow,” taps into that not-so-cheery spirit in just the right way. She mostly sings well-known holiday favorites, but the final track, “Calling On Mary,” is an original, and a great one. (The album takes its title from a line in this song, in fact.) It sounds like it’s for the people who could use a miracle or two at the end of the year; they don’t see one coming, but they haven’t totally given up on the idea, either. In this strange world of ours, a line like “And to all the lost souls down below, Merry Christmas” actually sounds warm and hopeful.