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Melissa Etheridge

A New Thought For Christmas

(Island; US: 30 Sep 2008; UK: 17 Nov 2008)

A New Thought For Christmas is exactly the type of holiday album you would expect from Melissa Etheridge. It’s deep and soulful, yet doesn’t deviate from the standard, powerhouse Etheridge formula—which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. She puts the blues into “Blue Christmas” and uses the classic “Gloria” as a basis for “Glorious”, soaring vocally with angels heard on high. Even Christmas songs that have been done to death by merry popsters like “Christmas (Baby, Please Come Home)” and “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” are given a spin that decks the halls and shakes the walls thanks to Etheridge’s powerful, emotive voice. It’s not all high-emotion, however. There are light-hearted moments sprinkled throughout and you can practically hear the smile and hint of mischief in her gravelly voice on “Merry Christmas Baby”.


Alongside tried and true Christmas fare are newer creations meshing blues, rock, soul, and light jazz with Etheridge’s voice in fine form. Some of these newer pieces, such as “Light a Light” and “O Night Divine”, stretch on too long. Even those with the maximum amount of holiday cheer in their heart will want to hit the bottle of Rock n’ Rye after one too many a chorus of the aforementioned. Other new songs nail the sentiment behind A New Thought For Christmas perfectly. Urging people to “ring the bells of change”, the disc’s most poignant piece, “Ring the Bells” features Melissa dueting alongside musician/activist Salman Ahmad, joyously profound in light of the Barack Obama’s impending Presidency. An all-encompassing holiday spirit hangs in the air on A New Thought For Christmas, welcoming everyone around the Yuletide fire regardless of creed so long as there’s love in their hearts.

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Lana Cooper has written various reviews and features for PopMatters since 2006. She's also written news stories for EDGE Media, a nationwide network devoted to LGBT news and issues. In 2013, she wrote her first novel, Bad Taste In Men, described as one part chick lit for tomboys and one part Freaks and Geeks for kids who came of age in the mid-'90s. She lives in Philadelphia and enjoys spending time with her family, reading comic books, and avoiding eye contact with strangers on public transportation. A graduate of Temple University, Cooper doesn't usually talk about herself in the first person, but makes an exception when writing an author bio.


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Melissa Etheridge - Ring the Bells (Live with Salman Ahmad)
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17 May 2010
A strident, shimmering set from Melissa, who set out to prove that a rocker's punch doesn't diminish with age.
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