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.
// Notes from the Road
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