November 16, 2010 - Tooth & Nail
Holiday music is a polarizing thing. People either can’t get enough of the misty-eyed sentiments and/or lighthearted nature of Christmas songs—or else they loathe the yuletide cheer with every fiber of their being. (We’re guessing anyone who’s ever covered TVTV$’s “Daddy Drank Our Xmas Money” falls into the latter camp.) Albuquerque, New Mexico’s Poema clearly appreciate the season on their fruitcake-sweet Once A Year EP. The duo of sisters Elle and Shealeen Puckett tackles two standards, a pair of originals and a cover on this short, satisfying release.
The two Christmas traditionals have appropriate levels of sentimentality. Dramatic strings bloom into strident acoustic riffs and angelic harmonies on “Little Drummer Boy,” while twinkling, ice-coated percussion and a jaunty tempo mark the EP’s highlight, “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas.” Poema’s original compositions are also strong: Horns, strings and piano drive “Wool Coats,” while “So Much More” is a bouncy, hopeful, piano-tickled tune reminiscent of low-lit Eisley. Year’s lone contemporary cover, “Santa Will Find You,” was originally performed by country singer Mindy Smith; this version features guest vocals from Copeland’s Aaron Marsh. It’s also the weakest song on the EP, far too slow and plodding to be interesting. Still, in the end, Year is a pleasant, early dose of Christmas spirit.