A small handful of animators are true sorcerers. Andrea Love is one of them. The Port Townsend, Washington fiber artist and filmmaker creates entire worlds out of wool —plush worlds, inhabited by characters of great whimsy, impossible beauty, and delightful, squeezable softness. She puts her magic in the service of adorableness and makes every thread sing and every bead sparkle.
Indie pop stars Ingrid Michaelson and Zooey Deschanel value whimsy and beauty, too, and during the holiday season, they’re particularly attuned to the emotional resonances of relationships. Michaelson is a practiced hand at holiday music — the original version of her acclaimed set Songs For The Season (#3, US “Indie”) stole hearts in 2018 and hasn’t given them back since — and Deschanel, as all filmgoers know, is the closest thing to a Christmas elf that Hollywood has for us. “Merry Christmas, Happy New Year,” a Michaelson-Deschanel duet, is one of five tracks appended to the deluxe reissue of Songs For The Season, and in Andrea Love, they’ve found the ideal video director and animator to amplify the song’s warmth and Christmas spirit.
Deschanel isn’t the only holiday reveler to join Michaelson on the deluxe Songs For The Season. The New York City pianist and songwriter also raises her voice with guitarist Jason Mraz, and frequent collaborators Allie Moss and Hannah Winkler of pop-rock band The Secret Someones. These artists join a crowded and convivial Christmas party that, on the original set, features appearances from Christina Perri, Will Chase, Grace VanderWaal, and Bess Rogers. The sound is nostalgic — redolent of Christmas classics from the ’40s and ’50s — the mood is welcoming, and the performances are as impeccable as those on eternal holiday standards.
Andrea Love has brought along a friend, too. The “Merry Christmas, Happy New Year” clip extends her working relationship with storyteller and illustrator (and fellow Washingtonian) Phoebe Wahl. Wahl and Love worked together on the award-winning children’s film Tulip, a brilliant 2020 animation of the Thumbelina story. Here, they’ve sculpted a bunny couple out of needle-felted wool — wool treated, matted, and bunched into beautiful shapes — and nested them in a wonderfully cozy world of fiber and thread. Throughout the clip, Wahl and Love demonstrate themselves to be virtuosos of felt, capable of crafting convincing fire, water, snow, and food out of nothing but wool. But nothing compares to the expressive quality of the dolls they’ve created. The love and chemistry between these bunnies, and their helpful neighbors, too, is evident in each stitch.