Ms. Abbeygate -- who has seized on the moniker apparently bestowed on her by rockabilly pioneer Wanda Jackson as "First Lady of Rockabilly" -- has put together an 11-song mix of Christmas standards and originals. By turns childlike and sultry, the British-born, Los Angeles-based singer lays her old school country and rockabilly hands on "Jingle Bells," puts a Bo Diddley spin on "Deck the Halls" and offers a Latin-rockabilly take on "The First Noel."
More interesting are her originals. The lead track, "What's In the Box," is an inscrutable and precocious hybrid that's part glam rock and part Buck Owens. There's plenty of "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree" tunes, like the Marilyn Monroe-meets-Patsy "Santa's Got a Crush on Me," the oddball "Tra La La La La" and the swingin' "Honey's Coming Home For Christmas." For the closer, she reverts to her Celtic roots, turning Robert Burns' "Auld Lang Syne" into a jig complete with bodhran.
"Songs of Solstice"
Washington, D.C.-based composer/musician Jennifer Cutting's holiday offering is steeped in Celtic tradition in both spirit and instrumentation. Cutting uses recorders, fiddles, hand drums, Celtic harp and bagpipes, as well as drums and electric guitars, to bring considerable life and spirit to the tunes.
The result is something akin to a less quirky Incredible String Band with hints of Fairport Convention (thanks to singer Lisa Moscatiello) that ranges from the rhythmic, Celtic rock of "Green Man" to the traditional French "People, Look East" and the haunting "Voici Lo Noel."
"Time to Remember the Poor" dates back to 19th-century England. The arrangement is lush with keyboards, Al Petteway's soaring electric guitar and Moscatiello's vocals sounding a bit like our own Kathy Mattea.
"Summer Will Come 'Round Again" closes the disc with a classic bit of Fairport-styled British folk rock.