This is not your typical and smarmy, sickly-sweet Christmas album. Rather, with this CD Jethro Tull have managed to capture in both verse and melody the spirit of giving, sharing, and perfunctory overindulgence that ostensibly goes with the Christmas season, contrasted with the melancholy and flat-out destitution that the less-fortunate among us actually experience during this time of year. This interplay of content and style are presented against a backdrop of earthly Pagan solstice symbolism, all of which Jethro Tull have managed to integrate as a kind of ecumenical "Birthday Card at Christmas," which not incidentally is the title of the introductory track. This combination is daring and bold, if not outright brilliant, and in my estimation they have pulled it off strikingly well. The musicianship, vocals, lyrics, production and overall execution (not to mention outstanding packaging) are commensurate with and at times exceed even Tull's impeccably high standards, showing this to be a band at the top of it's craft. Anderson's vocals, in particular, complete the album by sounding as warmly weathered as the bearded red-suit uncle himself. It's a decidedly Tull exploration of the seasonal space -- an effort that starts strong and improves with subsequent listens. May it continue to play well for you during the holiday season and throughout the year.