Like most everybody, Ana Gasteyer is known for her stint at Saturday Night Live. But I also know she is a pretty good singer, one who skews towards traditional Mid-Century Swinging arrangements. I should listen to her one other standards album called ‘I’m Hip,’ named from Blossom Dearie’s fun song, so you know she knows what she is singing about.
My initial impression from listening to her new Holiday album, ‘Sugar and Booze,’ is that it is really a fun album. Most Holiday albums contain one or more ‘sad’ Holiday songs but there is just joy in ‘Sugar & Booze.’ Looking at her track listing, the only traditional melancholy song here is ‘Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas,’ but in Gasteyer’s hands, the meaning is just pure joyous greeting. And there’s a lot of celebration elsewhere in the album, from the title track, which celebrates the best Holiday traditions: the time where people freely eat a lot of desserts and drink alcoholic beverages. I also loved ‘In The Market For A Miracle,’ which is a humorous take on Jewish people and Hannukah. And you would think that ‘Blue Black Friday’ would be melancholy, but it is hilarious – it’s about someone missing her love because she has no one to buy for during the Black Friday sales. There is so much original things in this record, like a salsa arrangement of ‘Sleigh Ride,’ and an updated take on June Christie’s ‘The Merriest.’ Her duet with Maya Rudolph, the tongue-twisting ‘Secret Santa’ is cute, but I wanted more (or maybe I had Everest-level expectations?) But all ina ll, this is a great Holiday album, topical but will prove to be timeless.