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One of my underground Christmas music heroes is Kurt Reighley (AKA DJ El Toro), the fine purveyor of Festive! Fanzine, one of the OG publications in this whole scene. Last holiday season, Kurt discovered Chicago crooner (and self-described queer country singer-songwriter) Andrew Sa after Kelly Hogan (a friend of Festive! and an alt. country luminary in her own right) shared a video of Andrew covering one of my favorite Neko Case songs, “I Wish I Was the Moon.” Andrew’s cover is so haunting and soulful – I was floored. Kurt was writing about a holiday livestream Andrew hosted, which I am so very sad I missed, but it did send me over to his Bandcamp to find out more. There I found a delightful, three-song EP of classic Christmas covers. Yes, covers are never what I am truly seeking out, but I’ll always let some good ones fall in my lap, for sure. On the first two tracks, “Santa Claus is Coming to Town (The Argument)” and “I’ll Be Home for Christmas (The Through),” simple piano accompaniment frames Andrew’s lovely vibrato – the economy of the arrangement is quite refreshing and beautiful. Heck, the Bessie Smith cover of “At the Christmas Ball (The Striptease)” has only a simple snapping finger to keep the time. Strip these songs down to the studs, add Andrew’s beautiful, emotional vibrato, and you hear them as wholly new songs. Truly, discovering this small collection of Christmas covers was most certainly an unexpected-yet-expected (parse that one out) delight.
Bottom Line: There is something there in this Andrew Sa’s voice that (for me) is just undeniable. I’ll like a second serving please, whenever you’re ready Andrew. 🙂