Turning Yuletide blues into hootenanny, merry gentlemen from Quebec marry familiar tunes to their own rootsy hoot ‘n’ toot.
If Christmas is about tradition, Mike Goudreau seems to be setting a personal trend now as he follows up on "The Isolation Blues" with this successor to 2003’s “My Favorite Time Of The Year” which was styled in a similar manner, and takes an old pal Dany Roy to the fore, for the former’s six strings need the latter’s sax now more than ever: togetherness is another seasonal tradition, after all. Those who know the two as brash noisemakers are in for a treat, though, because Goudreau prefers to don a crooner’s fedora for most of the Yuletide standards on offer – from the brass-splashed “Let It Snow” onwards – only to drop it in favor of a toque when his own pieces roll and rock a fireplace chair, aided and abetted by Dany’s licks. As a result, there’s heartwarming laughter to accompany nostalgic smile that perennials may bring.
Yet while some jokes are subtle here – distilling “Greensleeves” to a twangy instrumental, the ensemble don’t pretend to call it “What Child Is This?” – such Goudreau originals as “Christmas Shopping Mama” produce a full-on guffaw, complementing “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” and the like, the evergreens where Mike’s vocals sound suitably honeyed and Dany’s trumpet and flute take candlelit flight indoors. Those who’d rather stay on the floor can have fun as well, jivin’ to “Shufflin’ On Christmas Day” and the album’s title track that’s an infectious shoe-shuffler too. And while tasty guitar passages peppering up “Santa Claus Is Comin’ To Town” give the piece’s retro veneer a nice twist, the Latin-tinged “Jingle Bells” should make the listener shake their hips to the groove which Dave Watts’ contrabass, Richard Irwin’s drums and the main man’s handclaps provide with much gusto.
Just as much panache is in “Mon Beau Sapin” that finds Goudreau swing unhurriedly before folding out the silky, chamber-esque balladry of “Christmas Wish” and the lulling, steel-caressed “It Came Upon A Midnight Clear” until the bilingual “Silent Night / Sainte Nuit” and “Coup De Foudre À Noël” foray into a big-band territory. It’s the terrain we all like to dwell on – even for a single evening, and getting there with these lads will be a wonderful trip.