You may recall – or you can check the archives – that last year Bob Dylan put out a Christmas album. I was intrigued, but I was not about to put up cash for a Bob Dylan Christmas album. I figured it would go one of two ways: Brilliant Musical Masterpiece or Very, Very Bad Idea.
Fearing it would go more to the latter, I put it on reserve at the library. The library contacted me in mid-January that the CD was available. Since no one wants to read a review of a Christmas CD in mid-January, I took a pass.
But now we’ve swung back around so I went back to the library and picked up the disc to give it a fair hearing. That’s the good thing about Christmas CDs — like Christmas trees they are evergreen. At least for 30 days a year.
It turns out that the album — “Christmas in the Heart” — is neither masterpiece nor master failure. It’s just Dylan playing it straight, singing Christmas songs in his own inimitable style. He enunciates clearly, which is a step up from what he does on stage these days, I hear — and while he doesn’t embarrass himself, he doesn’t put much of a new spin on the old classics either.
A lot of the songs sound like they were recorded for some ’70s Christmas Special — back in the days when such things were common — complete with background singers reminiscent of the Ray Conniff singers. (My mother would be so proud if she knew that I still remember the Ray Conniff singers.)
The best tune on the album is the zydeco-flavored “Must Be Santa,” which I already own since it was a free download last year from iTunes. If you love Dylan and the idea of Dylan singing carols, then it might be worth your money.
I don’t think I’ll be adding it to my collection. I have a feeling it would eventually end up in my never-play-again Christmas section, home of “John Denver and the Muppets,” “A Very Special Christmas (Vol. I)” and “Christmas with the Ray Conniff Singers.”