Christmas is now just days away.
If you celebrate this most joyous of seasons, you’ve probably already trotted out your favourite holiday releases.
I’ve already cycled my way through Bing Crosby, Straight No Chaser, Nat King Cole, The Carpenters, The Muppets, David Foster and a dozen others.
But there’s always room for more.
At least at my house.
In my last column I looked at new Christmas recordings from Straight No Chaser, The Barra MacNeils, Kool & The Gang and the seasonal buffet that is Now! Christmas 6.
This week I’ll wrap up the holiday season with a quick look at four other offerings released this year.
Il Volo - Buon Natale
- The Christmas Album
One of the more enjoyable additions to my Christmas music library this year came courtesy of Il Volo, the critically acclaimed Italian trio featuring Piero Barone, Gianluca Ginoble and Ignazio Boschetto.
Barone, who’s 20, Ginoble and Boschetto, who are both 18, have wrapped their glorious voices around a collection of mostly American Christmas classics that includes I’ll Be Home for Christmas, The Christmas Song, Let it Snow and It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year.
For those who prefer something a little less frothy, they’ve included beautiful versions of Ave Maria, Silent Night (both an English version and a German version), Panis Angelicus and O Holy Night.
Also included here is a wonderful version of Notte Stellata (The Swan).
(Rating 4 out of 5 stars)
Johnny Reid - A Christmas
Gift To You
Johnny Reid, whose big, muscular voice, versatility and innovative nature have endeared him not just to country fans but to pop fans as well, has yielded a seasonal set well worth your consideration.
Reid’s 12-song collection, helmed by respected producer Bob Ezrin, captures the essence of the season with a mix that embraces both Christmas in North America and in his native Scotland where he spent the first 13 years of his life.
“Christmas is a time of peace, hope, love and happiness”, noted Reid. “I’ve always loved Christmas and everything it represents.”
That Reid truly feels this way is evident in the performances he delivers on material like Angels We Have Heard On High, Mary Did You Know?, Hark the Herald Angels Sing and O Holy Night.
Also included here is a lovely instrumental version of Lo How a Rose E’re Blooming. This set will be well played for many years to come.
(Rating 3 3/4 out of 5 stars)
Mary J. Blige - A Mary Christmas
Grammy Award-winning singer and songwriter Mary J. Blige who’s popped up on just about every Christmas variety special I’ve seen so far this season should have had her own special to showcase this record.
Blige’s first-ever holiday album is a sterling collection of classic holiday songs, each of which gets her own special spin.
David Foster, who’s produced big Christmas records in past for Michael Bublé, Rod Stewart, Andrea Bocelli, Josh Groban and Celine Dion, knew exactly how to showcase Blige’s splendid pipes and did so.
Blige and Foster also had help in the form of guest spots by Barbara Striesand, Marc Anthony, Jessie J and the Clark Sisters.
Album highlights include performances of My Favorite Things, Mary Did You Know?, The Christmas Song, When You Wish Upon A Star, her duet with Streisand, and The First Noel, a duet with The Clark Sisters.
(Rating 3 3/4 out of 5 stars)
The Robertson Family - Duck
the Halls: A Robertson
The Robertson Family of Duck Dynasty fame have cast their hat into the ring with an offering that combines traditional Christmas fare like I’ll Be Home for Christmas and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer with not-so-traditional seasonal offerings like Ragin’ Cajun Redneck Christmas, Camouflage and Christmas Lights and Duck The Halls.
Duck The Halls, as you’ve probably already guessed is their take on Deck The Halls, one in which the chorus is played with assorted duck calls.
They also do a swamp version of A Night Before Christmas.
They were aided and abetted on this set by Alison Krauss, George Strait, Josh Turner and Luke Bryan.
(Rating 2 ½ out of 5 stars)
Doug Gallant, a reporter with The Guardian, writes his music review column for The Guardian every week. He welcomes comments from readers at firstname.lastname@example.org or 629-6000, ext. 6057.