lifeblood: songs: backgrounds: christmas time's a comin'

2010-11-22: live review: indigo girls, tim o'brien (etown) @ the boulder theater, reverb:

the indigo girls presented several songs from their new holiday record "holly happy days" during their appearance on etown sunday night at the boulder theater. warmly welcomed on a cold winter's night, the indigo girls performed their first set with backup from the etones. they did one new seasonal song written by amy ray and one written by emily saliers, in addition to "in the bleak midwinter," a favorite christmas song of both of their mothers, the singers said.

the indigo girls' original holiday music has a bluegrass twang and, naturally, their strong and limber vocals, tight harmonies and strumming. on first listen (or second listen), these new christmas songs felt somewhat forced. for me, listening felt akin to opening a gift of a christmas sweater that's a tick too tight and the wrong color, but wearing it anyway so as not to hurt the feelings of the giver. of the three-song holiday set, i preferred "in the bleak midwinter," and i'd be curious to hear their other christmas covers.

in keeping with their inclusive, progressive spirit, the indigo girls intentionally created a holiday record rather than an exclusively christmas record. in the "holly happy days" mix, a hanukkah song fits in admirably with christian stand-bys such as "angels we have heard on high" and "o holy night" and contemporary hits such as "i'll be home for christmas."

etown host nick forster kept his line of questions for the indigo girls to christmas-related topics. ray said she enjoys "one trip to the mall." saliers said her christmas wish is for everybody to listen more and judge less.

tim o'brien, who also recently released a new record, "chicken & egg," his 13th solo album, performed a solid set.

the indigo girls returned to the stage to perform the songs that many in the audience came to hear: "shame on you," "galileo" and "closer to fine."

the show ended on a high note with an ensemble jam finale, with all players pulling it together for a rousing rendition of the country classic "christmas time's a' comin'."

outside the theater, snow fell quietly; and the lights on the boulder mall twinkled to signal that the holiday season really is here again.

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