Fiona Apple singing “Frosty the Snowman?!” That’s about as believable as Cindy McCain sharing her brownie recipe. But Apple is indeed one of the females-only singer songwriters on the Hotel Cafe’s new holiday album, Winter Songs, released this week. It distinguishes itself with a mix of standards and original holiday songs from a slew of artists who have performed at the intimate Hollywood venue.
Since its opening in 2000, Hotel Cafe has grown in size and stature, doubling in size from the original narrow coffee shop footprint it originally occupied on Cahuenga, as well as distinguishing itself as one of the premier singer songwriter venues in the country.
Apple’s “Frosty,” aside from being frosty, is more Maria McKee than Doris Day, no real surprise. While Sara Bareilles’ and Ingrid Michaelson’s opening “Winter Song” is exquisite and sad, Lenka delivers her Feist-like “All My Bells Are Ringing” as if it’s xmas year round, and I mean that in a not-scary way. Katy Perry (yes, she of “I Kissed a Girl”) sings a boozy “White Christmas” like it’s the end of the night in the loneliest bar in LA and Meika’s “Maybe Next Year” could fit into year round chill playlists– something attested to by her inclusion in two recent Grey’s Anatomy episodes.
The original songs’ moods and styles balance the old stand-bys, all of which have hand-tailored arrangements– a good thing if you’re like me and equate most versions of Christmas carols with fingernails scraping on a blackboard.
And might I add, there are only 70 shopping days until…