Mindy Smith singing Christmas songs is a little bit like Leonard Cohen trying to lead a group of small children in a rousing version of "Happy Birthday." Her heart may be in the right place, but even on this happiest day of the year, she still sounds a little sad.
They're probably not meant to be this way, but Smith's first two original compositions on the disc, "My Holiday" and "Santa Will Find You," are both a little melancholy. Maybe this is because Smith is a dead ringer for Patty Griffin, another teary girl. "Follow The Shepherd Home," written and is sung with Chely Wright, comes off only slightly happier. At last, closer "Come Around" finally lifts the spirits, especially because of Will Kimbrough's jangling electric guitar. This propulsive music underpins equally fitting words of encouragement. "Keep your faith in the Father/Jesus has come/To save us all from sin."
Smith also sings jazzy favorites, like "The Christmas Song" and "What Are You Doing New Year's Eve?," but she deserves the most kudos for writing half this project's songs. She may not be expressing a whole lot of joy to her world, but it's her holiday after all, and she'll cry if she wants to.