Review Summary: Taylor shifts her focus back to December.
Holiday compilations are a fairly predictable affair. We wait for an artist that we can tolerate to achieve a certain level of esteem and/or popularity, and then listen to them belt out a long list of holiday classics that we already know by heart. As long as the artist doesn’t completely butcher these songs that we hold so dearly, we chalk it up as a win. Taylor Swift’s 2007 Christmas album entitled Sounds of the Season: The Taylor Swift Holiday Collection
is no different…well, aside from the fact that it is not a long list
of classics but rather a six track EP clocking in at just under twenty minutes.
For as predictable as the songs may be on any Christmas album, it is the results that can be rather unpredictable. Sometimes artists will take the holiday season and make it their own, and other times their material will feel manufactured…like it was churned out just for the sake of being there, or as some kind of take the money and run / get rich quick scheme. Sounds of the Season
has a few unique moments to bask in, but it also suffers its fair share of the latter. The EP contains four traditional Christmas carols and two original songs written by Swift. The new songs are undoubtedly the best, with “"Christmases When You Were Mine" telling a tale of holiday heartbreak and “Christmas Must Be Something More" inviting us to look beyond Santa, snowflakes, and ribbons to observe the true meaning of Christmas:
What if ribbons and bows didn't mean a thing
Would the song still survive without five golden rings
Would you still wanna kiss without mistletoe
What would happen if God never let it snow
What would happen if Christmas carols told a lie
Tell me what would you find
When Taylor steps outside of the box and puts her creativity and knack for writing quality lyrics to good use, Sound of the Seasons
is a thoroughly enjoyable, unique
experience. However, it is when Swift covers the classics that the album falters. Her rendition of “Silent Night” is atrocious, as she sings in way too high of a pitch and attempts to alter the song’s pace at all the wrong times. Depending on what your tolerance for Christmas carols is to begin with, “Silent Night” could potentially be painful to sit through. “White Christmas” and “Santa Baby” are neither impressive nor dreadful, and they seem to support the idea that, at least some of the time, Taylor was just going through the motions here. Her voice lacks emotion, the songs rarely deviate from what is expected, and an overall sense of superficiality flows throughout both of the tracks. Luckily, not all
of the covers are average or awful. The EP’s opening track, “Last Christmas”, kicks things off with chiming bells and an upbeat rhythm to inform us that the holidays have arrived. Swift’s charming country-girl vocals are spot on, and the song ends up being extremely memorable.
As a whole, Sounds of the Season
is a hit-or-miss holiday EP. Aside from her butchering of “Silent Night”, nothing on here is downright awful…and that automatically places this above some compilations. But at the same time, there is really nothing on this album that fulfills Swift’s potential to create a thoughtful, personalized Christmas album with a sense of country twang. Most of these songs can be enjoyed on the surface, but about half of them are easily forgettable. This is by no means a bad Christmas compilation by Taylor Swift, it just rings hollow when you think about everything that this album could
have been. Perhaps that is all you can expect from an EP though…you take the good with the bad, and when all is said and done, you end up with a few worthwhile tracks to spin as the holiday season approaches even closer.