If Dan Blakeslee’s new record Christmasland Jubilee sounds too delightful to be from 2020, that’s because it is.
Twinkling with the kind of innocent wonder that children possess all winter long and that Hallmark Channel movies ceaselessly cling to, the new record from the Providence artist captures the unbridled cheer of pre-pandemic holidays. Blakeslee recorded the 13-track album days before Christmas 2019, and kept it under wraps until this past week (December 1), tucking some extra morale into stockings across New England.
“I’ve been wanting to make a full length studio Christmas record with my band for the past decade,” Blakeslee explains on Bandcamp. “Every December would go by feeling too busy with the hustle and bustle of the holidays to record an album like this. Then five days before Christmas in 2019 I called my studio engineer friend Chris Chase to see if he could get me in to record before December 25th that year. He said yes! So this album was recorded with snow on the ground and the magic of Christmas in the air.”
Christmasland Jubilee makes ample contributions to the world’s often-repetitive holiday music catalogue; six tracks offer jangly Americana twists on both secular and religious Christmas classics, while the other seven songs are wholesome originals, like local tie-in “The Somerville Lights.” Blakeslee’s knack for churning out holiday music dates back almost 15 years, when he started a tradition of writing and recording new songs as Christmas gifts for loved ones.
That same mastery of rekindling joy each winter propels Christmasland Jubilee above the inevitable slew of other Christmas music due out this month. Catchy and crafted with care, each tune — original or not — plays like an optimistic wish for peace upon each listener. Which, in any other year might have gone overlooked, but in 2020, wishes are a resource far too precious to squander.