[8 December 2011]
After taking too long a break from recording, Vanessa Peters is finally back in the studio. This new holiday album, The Christmas We Hoped For, is as much a teaser than anything. That sentiment isn’t meant to imply that this album itself isn’t worth a little attention, because it is. It’s hard to do too much with Christmas standards (and a Weepies cover) in the singer-songwriter sounds, but Peters finds new ways to work out old tunes, especially on her “What Child Is This?” medley where mallets add a key texture. The orchestration shifts from full band to more minimal arrangements, but the songs always rely on Peters’s inviting vocals, which always stay relaxed. The newly-written title track sets its optimism to a bouncy pop line and resists the shadows of doubt that peek through, allowing the hopefulness to sound both reasonable and informed even in the tension of the song. It’s the sort of writing Peters does well, so it’s too bad we’ll have to wait for the new year to get more of it.