Every Tuesday, Torontoist scours record store shelves in search of the city’s most notable new releases and brings you the best—or sometimes just the biggest—of what we’ve heard in Sound Advice.
Earlier this month, Zunior Records released its traditional holiday album, this year going with a country/blues theme, and, as is standard with Zunior’s holiday albums, it’s one of our favourite collections of songs for the season.
As with last year’s Peanuts Christmas album (and, in fact, since 2004), all proceeds from the digital release go to the Daily Bread Food Bank, which saw a fifteen percent increase in client visits over last year. And, like last year’s, this compilation is less than nine dollars. So. Just saying.
For A Country Blues Christmas the label has assembled what it calls “some of Zunior’s all-time favourite heavy hitters,” most of whom have contributed original songs for the release. It opens with the elegiac, layered vocal harmonies of Jim Guthrie’s “I’m Coming Home (This Christmas),” a pretty, peaceful song that sets the tone for the Weather Station’s “Snow Up to My Window” (streaming above), an intimate, Appalachian-y folk tune wherein singer Tamara Lindeman perfectly captures the comforts and the chaos of going home for the holidays.
Songs from the Great Lake Swimmers and Al Tuck contribute the blues element to the album, while the lovely Old Man Luedecke adds his unaffected East Coast storytelling charm (and his banjo) to a reworking of the traditional “Pretty Little Baby.” The Burning Hell represent Hanukkah with a song called, fittingly, “Happy Hanukkah,” an original song with a traditional Hebrew blessing tacked onto the end, all tied together with singer Mathias Kom’s unmistakable deadpan baritone.
A Country Blues Christmas is a hushed, plaintive collection that evokes the quiet and contemplative moments of a season that’s rife with reason to pause and reflect. Donate to the Daily Bread Food Bank and all the Toronto families it feeds by purchasing the album (complete with the great cover art, designed and illustrated by Trevor Waurechen) through Zunior.