Figuring out what album to review week in and week out is no easy task. As a Druggernaut, it is our job to provide you with an array of albums that you might have never given the proper chance (At least that’s what we tell ourselves to help us sleep at night). That said, this week we throw you an even more ludicrous, Barry Zito-esque rainbow curveball in the form of a Christmas album before the holiday season. To add even more to this conundrum, how about a Christmas album that has a resounding beachy vibe? Well, fulfilling these needs best is none other than Malibu singer-songwriter, Colbie Caillat and her new holiday album, Christmas in the Sand. Read on to see if this album is a Nelly-Tim McGraw record in the making or a potential holiday favorite.
“Merry Christmas Baby” is a nice lead-in to help give a sense of what to expect. Rather than make it sound like something that isn’t even a tangential thought of Christmas sounding music, Caillat combines her hip surfer girl sound with thoughts of hot cocoa and mistletoe strewn atop doors. Having an edgier than Christmas sound with an acoustic guitar lick that comes across as George Thorogood-esque, Caillat grabs our interest. Then, in comes the always important shakers in the background, reminiscent of sleigh bells and that Yule tide joy. The addition of Brad Paisley on vocals is a nice touch on this track as well, especially since he gets to flaunt a guitar riff halfway through, which isn’t synonymous with your average Christmas song. Their dynamic really blends well with this track and creates a euphoric feeling that helps set the tone.
Shifting gears, “Santa Baby” is one of those songs that seems to be intentionally designed for Caillat’s voice. Her sweet and innocent vocals are the embodiment of this classic song and it is one that doesn’t really deviate from the original track. Nonetheless it is a joy to listen to.
It’s important to point out, however, that any successful Christmas album to date has a variety of reasons for why it sold so many copies. For Bieber it was being Bieber. For Buble it was being an incredible crooner. And Mariah taught us back in the day that being hot and having a voice to match equals millions of sales. For Caillat, however, she isn’t as mainstream an act as these heavy hitters, but her likeability and easy-going California girl persona help spark an interest. That said, her album’s title track, “Christmas in the Sand” is a good break from the norm. Who doesn’t want to hear about Santa catching ten? If you grew up or have lived in Southern California then you completely understand that dreams of a white Christmas are like catching Santa in your living room, eating every single cookie and then raiding your pantry for Mint Milanos. Hands off, Santa!!!
“Christmas in the Sand” starts off like many signature Colbie songs with a ukulele playing, accompanied by a simple drumbeat. It’s nothing that will wow your eardrums, but it just feels so good to listen to, especially when mixed with her soothing voice. The chorus is so fun, lyrically that it’s almost impossible to harp on:
“I saw Santa in his bathing suit, tryin’ to catch a wave,
But he tried too soon
He laughed so hard that he could barely breathe
And washed up next to me
He said you look naughty, but I’m sure you’re nice
He was soaking wet but he cracked a smile with a present in his hand
He said it’s Christmas in the sand.”
Are the lyrics kind of ridiculous? Yeah, I’ll concede to that. Santa pulling a present out of nowhere after biting it hard sounds kind of comical. I mean, sure, he probably wasn’t surfing Mavericks, but who knows. In the end, breaking away from the cliché song about Santa climbing down the chimney is refreshing and although Santa chilling in the sand is a contradiction, it somehow just works.
“Mistletoe” is another one of the top tracks on this album. Melodically, it’s one of those tracks that sticks to you and keeps you humming randomly, when you have no idea you are doing it. The overarching vibe is a lot like that of a less melancholic version of “Battle” off of Caillat’s debut album, Coco. The subtle use of piano also adds a great layer to the record that would be lacking something if it wasn’t incorporated. Lyrically, Caillat writes in an ironic sense:
“It's not Christmas if the snow don't fall
And I'm still standing here three feet small
Lose our troubles because after all
It's Christmas time”
Doing this, Caillat adds her own imprint by highlighting that Christmas doesn’t necessarily connote being happy. At the same time, however, she sheds a sense of hopefulness in her demeanor. After all, anything is possible when it’s Christmas time.
Whether a fan of Caillat’s style of music or not, Christmas in the Sand offers up a nice addition to your holiday cheer. It includes a simple rehashing of some of your favorite classics and original material that is sure to delight that festive mood you are in. If this album doesn’t make you warm and fuzzy on the inside then you might want to go to the doctor because you have no heart. Or you can blast that teenage angst music you love. Your choice. Until then, Druggernauts!