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Jacqui Naylor

Smashed for the Holidays

(Ruby Star Records; US: 9 Oct 2007; UK: Available as import)

The title’s a pun. Jacqui Naylor is most notable for her “acoustic smashing”, in which she sings one song while her band plays another. It can be an enjoyable and enlightening process (as on Live East/West), but on this album it feels a little more gimmicky. The arrangements are playful, but the use of three Led Zeppelin songs on a 13-track album just feels bizarre, and the songs feel like less natural fits (even if the “What Child Is This?”/“Babe I’m Gonna Leave You” gets bonus points for cleverness). But the holidays are a time for gimmicky music and what sets Naylor apart from the pack is the rich tone of her alto. Her powerful voice deserves a better outlet than this recording (and more attention than its gotten). Her band succeeds in mixing various styles as long as they avoid slipping too far into lounge mode. Smashed for the Holidays doesn’t work as an introduction to Naylor’s work, but it’s not a bad diversion for one month out of the year.

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Justin Cober-Lake lives in Charlottesville, Virginia, with his wife, kids, and dog. His writing has appeared in a number of places, including Stylus, Paste, Chord, and Trouser Press. His work made its first appearance on CD with the release of Todd Goodman's first symphony, Fields of Crimson. He's recently co-founded the literary fly-fishing journal Rise Forms.


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