Vanessa Peters sings (and talks) about “The Christmas We Hoped For”
Listening to NPR this weekend I had the misfortune to hear snippets of new Christmas releases from Michael Bubble and Justin Beaver with Busted Rhymes. Luckily the antidote, recently received in the mail, was nearby. I turned off the radio and slid Vanessa Peters‘ The Christmas We Hoped For into the CD player. Just what Santa Claus ordered: a tuneful and tasteful take on a dozen Christmas songs! There’s nothing pretentious or hipster here. With an unplugged feel Vanessa and the band deliver secular Christmas (yeah, I know that is an oxymoron) songs “White Christmas”, “The Christmas Song” and “Winter Wonderland” as well as the standard Christmas carols “Oh Holy Night” and “What Child Is This”. Belief wise I’m somewhere between Chris Knight’s “card-carrying atheist” self-description and Todd Snider’s “evangelical agnostic” so it’s probably no surprise that my two favorite tracks are “All That I Want” (Weepies) and Vanessa’s “The Christmas We Hoped For” which have a similar feel and sensitivity to tracks found on Vanessa’s brilliant and beautiful 2009 release Sweetheart, Keep Your Chin Up. The Christmas We Hoped For is available at CDBaby and iTUNES and that is all you need to know to skip the malls and do some cyber shopping. If Christmas discs aren’t your thing look for Vanessa’s new Kickstarter (and yes, I contributed) funded release in 2012!
HB – I was reading the liner notes and wonder how did you get in the mood to record aChristmas album in the summer of 2011?
VP – Honestly, arranging & recording the Christmas songs helped to take our minds off theinsane heat. This was the hottest summer on record in Texas (I think of any state, ever)… formost of the month of August, it was 110 degrees outside. So it was nice to dim the lightsand stay inside in the cool dark of the studio and pretend that winter (or even fall) was justaround the corner.
HB-You’ve recorded quite a few Christmas classics for the disc but the real treats for mewere two tracks I wasn’t familiar with:The Weepies “All That I Want” and the title track “The Christmas We Hoped For” which youwrote.
VP – I’m glad you liked those! I’ve been a fan of that Weepies’ song since I first heard it, and Iwas a bit apprehensive about covering it, because their version is so fantastic. We definitelyshifted it off its axis a bit, changing up the time signature and a few other elements of thesong. It was one of the hardest ones to get right, but I’m really happy with how it turned out.The other track, “The Christmas We Hoped For,” is an original that I wrote this summer. Itstarted out as a much sadder-sounding song, but after we did some live takes with the bandin the studio, we realized it worked better as a more uptempo song. I love taking lyricsthat are on the wistful or even sad side of things and pairing them with deceptively happymelodies. I do think it’s a hopeful song, though – there’s a lot of optimism in it.
HB– I agree with Dwight Shrute from The Office when he said “My heart just melts when Ihear the sound of children singing. Ha! Not really.”Thanks for not including a children’s choir!
VP – You obviously didn’t listen to the bonus track… 🙂 Kidding! Nope, no children’s choir tobe found here. We were going for a much more stripped-down approach for this album. Wewanted it to feel cozy and homemade, and it’s pretty hard to pull that off with the children’schoir recording in your living room.
HB-Could you tell me a little bit about your recent Kickstarter project that was funded? Is there a projected release date?
VP – We’re hard at work on the new album of originals. We haven’t set a release date yetbecause I really want to make sure we aren’t scrambling to meet an imaginary deadline.One of the nice things about not being on a label is that you set your own schedule. But it’sprogressing really well, and we’re hoping to have the album recorded, mixed, and masteredby March. We would then release the music to our Kickstarter backers digitally – one of theperks of being a backer (at any level) is that you get an advance digital copy of the album -and then we’ll go about printing the physical copies, etc.
HB-Thanks Vanessa. I hope see you in NC in 2012!
VP – Likewise! We’re planning on touring extensively when this new album is ready, so I am sure we’ll find ourselves in NC before too long.
HB comment: Besides being a talented singer and songwriter, apparently Vanessa can do one heck of a handstand!