Ashley Davis to share 'Christmas Sessions' at dual Lied Center concerts
Whenever fans approach Celtic songstress and Lawrence native Ashley Davis with album ideas, more often than not she can count on requests going one of two ways: Christmas or lullabies.
With the release her album “The Christmas Sessions” this month, Davis jokes that she’s finally “checked off one of those boxes.” (No word yet on that lullaby album.)
The result, co-produced by Irish musician John Doyle, is a 13-track “culmination of all my Christmases,” says Davis, who will perform the entirety of “The Christmas Sessions” — plus a few selections from 2012’s “Songs of the Celtic Winter” — at the Lied Center this week.
The shows, slated for 7:30 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, have become something of a holiday tradition for Davis. It’s her fifth year performing her annual wintertime concert at the Lied Center, though this week’s two-gig performance, fueled by the success of last year’s show, is a first.
“You want your Christmas album to sound like you and not like everybody else’s Christmas album, so how are you as an artist going to approach this differently than others have?” Davis says of “The Christmas Sessions,” which features Doyle on guitar and mandola. “And I believe instead of trying to do something different, that if you stay true to yourself as an artist, you’re going to be different.”
Drawing from the tranquility of John Fahey’s 1968 instrumental Christmas album “The New Possibility” (a childhood favorite of hers), Davis’ most recent offering features her similarly “peaceful,” pared-down takes on retro classics such as “Winter Wonderland” and Irving Berlin’s “White Christmas” as well as traditional carols “Silent Night,” “O Come O Come Emmanuel” and others.
Aside from Doyle’s “Merry Christmas to All and Goodnight,” there’s just one original track on the album — Davis’ and Doyle’s slinky “Light My Tree,” written in the spirit of “Santa Baby!” and its “big band, pouty” peers in the canon of innuendo-laden Christmas songs made famous by female vocalists.
“They crack me up,” Davis says of the inspiration for her playful double entendre. “It was a really fun song for me to write and to try to say the same thing in various ways and to try to say it in a way that a kid could listen to and sing along with. It’s definitely the funniest song I’ve written, by far.”
As of Monday, there are still a few tickets left for “Ashley Davis: The Christmas Sessions.” General-admission tickets are $20, and can be purchased at lied.ku.edu, the Lied Center box office at 1600 Stewart Drive or 864-2787.
Can’t catch Davis at the Lied Center? “The Christmas Sessions” album is also available for download on iTunes and for purchase at Brits, 929 Massachusetts St., and the Phoenix Gallery, 825 Massachusetts St.