Her take on "I'll Be Home for Christmas" captures the song's wistful longing, as her voice drips with sorrow on the song's closing "if only in my dreams." Similarly, the darker tone of "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" meshes perfectly with Mann's detached delivery, while on a duet with Grant Lee Phillips, Mann captures the wry humor of the Dr. Seuss classic "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch."
Elsewhere, Mann takes on more straightforward pieces, giving a jazzy flair to "Winter Wonderland" and "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas." There are two notable originals on this collection: "Christmastime," written by Mann's husband, Michael Penn, conveys the dreamy blur of the holiday season, while Mann's lulling ballad "Calling on Mary" delivers the bittersweetness at which she has always excelled.
-- Catherine P. Lewis