Debi Smith: Songs for Shopworn and Overlooked Holidays

Hits & Holidays
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I’m on record as supporting unilateral drone strikes on performers who make holiday records. (Dylan’s Christmas album, anyone?) I am, however, willing to give the stand-down order for Debi Smith’s foray into seasonal merriment. First of all, she has a seriously great voice; it has depth, power, clarity, and chutzpah. No wonder she’s both a beloved solo performer and a mainstay of Four Bitchin’ Babes and The Smith Sisters. If you’ve any doubt about how good she really is, listen to her out-muscle a string orchestra on “O Holy Night.” We’re talking diva territory on that one. The other thing in her favor is that she has an expansive view of holidays—not just the mauling mall litany of Christmas irritants, but a calendar’s worth of offerings. I did not know that January 23 was National Pie Day, but I’m feeling festive about that one, and I’m as giddy about Smith’s cover of Doc Watson’s “Pie” as I am of her duet with Watson on “Keep on the Sunny Side.” They’re calling that a New Year’s song and that’s good enough for me. Nor did I know that March 20 was National Proposal Day or that May 4 was Renewal Day, but I’m glad she collaborated with Tom Paxton on the tender “Marry Me Again.” Canada Day coming up? Check out Smith’s “Niagara Falls.” Need a little something extra for Mother’s Day? Smith’s “Mother’s Hands” is rightly a beloved standard. Want to go a little over the top? How about “Chevy Impala” for Collector Car Appreciation Day? Mark your calendars; it’s coming up on July 9.

Rob Weir

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