Judith Owen,
Christmas in July
(Dog on the Bed, 2004)

With a jazzy reinterpretation of Spinal Tap's "Christmas with the Devil," Judith Owen shows right off the bat that Christmas in July isn't a typical holiday album. Sure, there are some traditional Christmas carols and hymns, but they don't quite sound like one would expect. (This is a good thing.) Owen infuses energy, vitality and innovation into previously/seemingly tired holiday songs.

One of the live bonus tracks, "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen," provides a brief glimpse of what her live performances must be like (specifically her perky intro to "Welcome to Christmas in July!"). Owen takes a typically traditional Christmas carol and turns it on its side, in a Tori-Amos-meets-Ella-Fitzgerald manner.

Julia Fordham joins in for a soulful duet on "Silent Night." Even if you think you've heard every rendition of this hymn, I guarantee this one will pleasantly surprise you. Owen & Fordham provide some interesting contrasting harmonies towards the end.

Be sure to take special note of the two lovely original songs, "The Dancing Tree" and the other live bonus track, "My Father's Voice." Both songs show off a bit more of Owen's vocal range, as well as show a more serious side.

My only complaint is that this review is about as long as her album! Simply put, six songs (two of which are bonus tracks) are not enough to really make it Christmas in July. Hopefully, we'll get more vocal presents and see more of a presence from Judith Owen, not only at Christmas, but throughout the year.

- Rambles
written by C. Nathan Coyle
published 23 July 2005