After releasing her debut solo project Blue On Blue just a few months ago, Leigh Nash is back again with an online-only digital Christmas EP, Wishing For This. Nash's voice is anything but new to the holiday season, as she's leant her sweet, angelic vocals to over half-dozen Christmas tunes while in her previous venture, Sixpence None The Richer. But Wishing For This is new territory for this singer/songwriter, as she tackles more contemporary songs, tossing in a classic for good measure.
The EP was produced by Nate Blackstone and her husband (and former PFR drummer) Mark Nash. Its quality is perfect and personal, opening on a light note with the jazzy "Baby, It's Cold Outside," an old time swinging tune that was once sung by the likes of Dean Martin, but was recently revived by the film Elf just a few years ago. Here Leigh teams up with Gabe Dixon, of former Sixpence labelmates The Gabe Dixon Band, offering a more lively version of the duet. A cover of Ron Sexsmith's "Maybe This Christmas" (which the original spawned a couple Nettwerk Records Christmas compilations) follows, a more laid back and pensive reflection on the season and the emotions it brings. An acoustic and sleigh bell driven take on George Michael's "Last Christmas" is a nice highlight, preceding the only real classic carol on the EP, a lovely rendition of the Christmas favorite "O Holy Night." Nash gives a nod to her roots by covering Dolly Parton's "Hard Candy Christmas," a melancholy and rather mood-killing southern holiday effort. Leigh's vocals fit the country setting quite well, but the song lyrically is a Christmas killjoy.
"Eternal Gifts," written by Nashville indie artist Kate York (who ironically filled Nash's shoes on the Fall tour with Jars Of Clay when Leigh backed out of the tour), is another country flavored song, this time offering a much more spiritually thoughtful look at Christmas with lyrics like, "Santa knows what I want for Christmas / but Jesus knows what I need." While Nash has only dabbled in southern influences before, I have to admit I wasn't sure how her sweet, soft vocals would mesh with the genre, but "Eternal Gifts" is the perfect example of how nicely her voice works with the country sound. The piano and violin laced title track is a sweet little original love song written by Leigh that bears a bit of a Sixpence feel in writing style and execution. Nash's vocals shine brightly as her heart seems to connect with every word sung, in a way that doesn't come through on the project's recordings before it. The beautiful song about forgiveness and resolution on Christmas is an intimate way to end her first official holiday project.
Varied and diverse, Leigh Nash's Wishing For This is a contemporary glimpse at the Christmas season, sung by one of the most beautiful voices in music today. While the project may suffer from a little too much hard candy and not enough holy nights, sadly missing out on a few more carol revisitations, Nash has given fans a true little Christmas treat with Wishing For This that would be a fine stocking stuffer for any digital music buyer.- Review date: 11/12/06, written by John DiBiase
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