I have a couple favorite songs on this cd. Born On Christmas Day and Home On Christmas Day. I’d buy the cd for just these 2 songs, but luckily the other songs are enjoyable too. Kristin will always be Olive Snook (from Pushing Daises) to me, but since she is no longer in that role I’m grateful she is still creating beautiful music for her fans to enjoy.
This is the album I spend the most time listening to during the Christmas season. I love Kristin Chenoweth, and she does not disappoint on this album. I would have given it five stars, but there are a couple random songs that I skip over every time (Sing, Come On Ring Those Bells, Born on Christmas Day). This is one of the best Christmas albums out there!
Kristin opens the album with the wistful ballad I'll be home for Christmas, which comes round frequently on American Christmas albums and rightly so. Next comes Christmas Island, the Christmas song most closely identified with the Andrews sisters. People who follow my reviews know that I'm a huge fan of the Andrews sisters. It's always great to find covers of their songs, because it helps to draw people back to their music, but it is very rare for anybody to improve on the original recordings. Still, I love Kristin's version of Christmas Island, which is certainly a worthy tribute to the Andrews sisters and one of the best covers of any of their songs that I've ever heard.
Kristin also revives The Christmas waltz, which is a great song that doesn't appear on new Christmas albums as often as it once did. Or maybe it's coming back into fashion, as I was also pleased to find the song on Pam Tillis' recent album Just in time for Christmas. Next comes the familiar (but not excessively covered) Do you hear what I hear? Though I've heard several versions of this song, Kristin sounds as good as any of the others; she might even be the best of the lot.
With guest John Pizzarelli, Kristin performs a great medley of Sleigh ride / Marshmallow world. A long way removed from the separate versions of these songs to be found on the Phil Spector Christmas album, this is nevertheless a great medley that is well worth a listen. The next track is a revival of an old Carpenters song, Sing, with lyrics adapted for Christmas. Actually, I don't notice much change except that Kristin urges people to sing of peace and harmony, which is fair enough, and I`m glad that Kristin recorded it for this album. Still, it set me wondering what other Carpenters songs could be adapted for Christmas. Maybe somebody will rework Please Mr Postman? (OK so I know that it wasn't originally a Carpenters song, and I also know that they recorded two Christmas albums.)
Another very familiar Christmas song follows, this being Silver bells, one of my favorite Christmas standards. Next is Come on ring those bells, which appears to be an original song (I've not heard it elsewhere) and which has a distinct country sound to it. I wasn't expecting this, but Kristin is just as brilliant on this track as she is on the rest of the album. Next comes What child is this?, a familiar song that, as everybody should know, uses the tune of the old folk song Greensleeves.
Two more great songs that appear to be originals - Home on Christmas Day, Born on Christmas Day - and a medley of Sleep well little children / What a wonderful world complete an outstanding album. The last-named song isn't really a Christmas song but has increasingly been accepted as part of the Christmas repertoire and LeAnn Rimes used it as the title track to her Christmas album.
With a great track selection that blends familiar and obscure material, all of it superbly performed, this appears destined to become one of my most-played Christmas albums. Given the size of my Christmas music collection, that's really saying something. This Christmas albums has something for everybody and will work as background music or as an album to just sit and listen to. Listening to it is, as the title proclaims, a lovely way to spend Christmas. Well, part of Christmas anyway.
I was looking for a new Christmas album to buy, and asked my friends on Facebook what they like to listen to during this season of joy. I have over 20+ Christmas albums, so I asked them not to mention any of the "basics": no Bing, no Nat, no Elvis, no Frank, not even Harry, Ella or Karen. No Mo Tab, nothing. To my surprise, one of my former students named this album as one of her favorites. I've been a fan of Ms. Chenoweth for awhile, but had no idea that she came out with a Christmas album.
What a delightful surprise! Unless you don't like her voice, I don't see how you'd dislike this album. It contains some standards, but some of her take on these songs might surprise you. I am completely happy with my purchase.
So why 4 stars? Honestly, because I rarely give 5 stars. In order for you to get 5 stars for a CD or a movie or book from me, it would pretty much have to be a standard legend. As good as this album is, it's neither, I'm afraid.
Being a music major and avid listener to most types of music, I was taken aback when I realized I had never heard of Kristen Chenowith, especially after reading some of her bio material. A local radio station here in Central Illinois, WEZC, plays a great cross-section of decades of 'easy' listening music. During their all- Christmas music period, they played several tracks from this CD. First, I was captured by the beauty and message of the "Wonderful World" medley. Then the sheer purity of "What Child Is This" was breathtaking. She delivers so many styles, from the childlike, to country/western, to bold Broadway, and I'm sure she possesses even a stronger operatic style than evidenced on this CD. Because of the sweetness, purity, and fun of these songs, I bought a copy not only for myself, but also for my 2 y/o granddaughter, who, thanks to her Daddy, also a music major, is a great little singer already. I like to expose her to as many styles as possible!
Arrived on time and well packaged. CD is as described and all tracks play. Really wasn't expecting to actually be moved to tears hearing the Sesame Street song - but that happened. Memory is a funny thing.
As much as I love Christmas music, there are very few CD's that grab me from the moment I first start listening to them. But that was the case with this CD. From the very first note of "I'll Be Home for Christmas," I was drawn into a world of snow and twinkling lights and presents. Kristin's voice made me want to snuggle up by a fire, and its still 80's degrees here in Southern California.
The CD ranges in style from jazz on "I'll Be Home for Christmas" (with a lovely sax solo), to big band on "Sleigh Ride/Marshmallow World" and "Christmas Island" and even a hint of country on "Silver Bells."
Speaking of country, she goes full blown country on "Come On, Ring Those Bells." I have another version of this song I consider my favorite Christmas song, so that choice was a bit of a disappointment. Even this song won me over after a few more listens, however.
"Do You Hear What I Hear?" is amazing. The music starts quietly with just bells as Kristin sings the first verse. As the song progresses, the orchestra builds. Kristin even echoes herself at times.
"Home on Christmas Day" is at once sad and beautiful. It's a song to the loved ones no longer in her life letting them know they will always have a home in her heart at Christmas.
I've never heard the normally upbeat "Christmas Waltz" performed this slowly before, but I fell in love with it half way through.
I'm not normally a fan of artists recording songs that aren't normally Christmas on Christmas releases, but even that works here. "Sing" incorporates a Christmas themed second verse while "What a Wonderful World" is combined with Christmas lullaby "Sleep Well Little Children."
I know this is a disc I will pull out often over the coming years whenever I need to get into the Christmas mood. I have no qualms calling it a masterpiece already. I am sure it will stand the test of time.
For those of you not familiar with Kristin Chenoweth, you need to become so. Watch 'Pushing Daisies' for starters, and then the movie 'RV'. She is a lovable person with incredible talent. She is incredibly famous for her role as a lead character in the Broadway sensation 'Wicked,' and rightfully so, as her voice is absolutely incredible. If you enjoy Christmas albums, definitely pick this one up. The songs here range from elegant all the way to quirky and fun, and of course everything in between. Great album, great sound, great person, great addition to anyone's collection!