By Michael Slezak
Updated December 24, 2008 at 12:00 PM EST

Depending on what part of the world you live in, and depending on whether you’re a brick-and-mortar or an online shopper, there are about eight shopping hours left until Christmas. If this news is sending you into a spiral of shock and bewilderment, relax! You might as well pour yourself a cojito — thanks, Mom, for introducing me last night to the delicious alternative to both egg nog and mojitos! — and give up your dreams of playing Santa at any of the parties on your social calendar tomorrow. While you’re at it, press play on the two tracks I’ve embedded below — “My Name Is” and “Criminal” — from Age of Solo, the fantastic 2008 debut disc from super-talented British chanteuse Lettie. The former is a wistful little ditty with dreamy layers of vocals, an unexpected splash of harmonica, and lyrics that’ll have you flashing back to animals marching side-by-side toward Noah’s Arc (or a high-rise flat, at the very least). The latter is the most scathing indictment of the Iraq war ever set to a hypnotic dance beat. And Age of Solo, amazingly, has another seven or eight songs I like equally well. (Imagine that! An album that doesn’t require you to skip every other track!) Full disclosure: David Baron, who produced the disc, is the husband of my friend and coworker Jinhi; this does not make it any less fabulous. But give a listen and judge for yourself:

“My Name Is”


Anyhow, Age of Solo is my go-to present this season for music lovers in search of something that’ll stop them from spinning Beyonce’s I Am Sasha Fierce till even their moms want to pimp-slap ’em new and under-the-radar. I’m curious to hear what songs and albums you’re giving to friends and family this holiday season. Hurry and post — last-minute PopWatcher shoppers may be counting on you!