CD REVIEW An Anni Rossi Christmas: Anni Rossi 

An Anni Rossi Christmas: anni Rossi

Armed with a viola and her voice, Anni Rossi generally records songs seemingly filled with woe. Her tone is often either dour, melancholy or at its brightest, indifferent. She's a talented song-writer and performer, and her disposition comes off as nothing short of earnest.

On An Anni Rossi Christmas, Rossi compiles recordings of some the more common Christmas songs, and without rewriting or deconstructing, she recites them as if they were her own. "Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells" and "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" have never sounded less joyous. The tears may stream down your cheeks, if you're not careful. "Little Drummer Boy" and "Frosty the Snowman," on the other hand, are a bit of a turn. Each of them is downright playful.

The production sounds like it was done at someone's home studio, though without being sloppy. Except when it's doubled, each vocal track sounds as if it is the first attempt. There are gasps, squeals and stuttering scattered about, which keeps even the most played-out of the carols sounding fresh.

The arrangement of each piece is thoughtful, as is the instrumentation. There's piano, trumpet (by guest Charles Decastro) and Rossi's primary instrument, the viola. Also in the mix, a weird drum machine weaves itself in and out of songs, generally distracting us from the strength of the performance.

In all, this CD embodies the genuine reality of Christmas: There are sad times, joyful times and several moments when you don't know exactly which direction you or your emotions will take you.

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