A Lovely Way To Spend Christmas
I love Kristin Chenoweth. She’s gorgeous and cute at the same time. On top of all, that she’s a great actress and has an amazing voice.
I knew all of this going into listening to A Lovely Way To Spend Christmas, but I was still dreading having to listen to Christmas songs. Let’s face it, we’ve heard them all before.
But my fears were for naught. This album is a joy and a pleasure to listen to--even months before Christmas.
Chenoweth’s voice sparkles and bubbles its way through 12 Christmas songs, some classic, some new. There is something for everyone on this album, with songs ranging from traditional Christmas to big band, and even some more modern-sounding country and gospel thrown in for good measure. The orchestrations are lush and lovely, and compliment Chenoweth’s vocals perfectly.
The album opens with "I’ll Be Home for Christmas," the 1943 classic that has become a standard at Christmas time. It is followed by the rarely heard "Christmas Island," a song that was a hit in the late 40’s for the Andrews Sisters. With its bouncy rhythm and Caribbean feel, you will be tapping your feet by the end of the track.
The third cut on the album is my personal favorite. "The Christmas Waltz" was written for Frank Sinatra, and has been recorded several times by other artists, most notably by jazz singer Nancy Wilson and pop super group The Carpenters, but it is still a rarity on most people’s Christmas play list. Chenoweth’s version will change that: her voice sparkles as it glides gracefully through the dainty little waltz that wishes good cheer to everyone.
"Do You Hear What I Hear?" follows "The Christmas Waltz," and is a lovely and delicate version of this mid-60s classic.
"The Sleigh Ride/Marshmallow World Medley" that follows changes the tone of the album. It is a duet with jazz singer/guitarist John Pizzarelli, and is reminiscent of the wonderful Margret Whiting-Johnny Mercer duets of the late 1940s. Their voices blend very well, but Chenoweth is always the stronger sound. It is an upbeat and fun track that will leave you smiling and looking forward to the frost in the air.
Producers Robbie Buchanan and Jay Landers have rethought the Sesame Street classic "Sing" to turn it into a Christmas song for the 6th cut on the album, and their efforts were not wasted. They’ve taken this childhood classic and infused it with the spirit of the holiday season.
On the classic "Silver Bells," Chenoweth rethinks the song with a decided country feel that reminds me of Emmylou Harris. She follows this up with the country gospel toe- tapper "Come On Ring Those Bells." Chenoweth’s Oklahoma roots show in this unabashedly country song.
"What Child Is This" is my favorite of the traditional Christmas carols, and Chenoweth’s voice caresses and glides over the haunting melody. She follows this traditional carol with the two newer songs: "Home On Christmas Day" was written by producer Jay Landers and Walter Afanasieff. "Born On Christmas Day" was written by Peabo Bryson and producer Robbie Buchannan. Both songs show off Chenoweth’s range of expression and styles.
The final cut on the disc is a medley of lullabies: "Sleep Well Little Children/What A Wonderful World." Chenoweth’s voice is tender and intimate, and even when the orchestra swells to it’s heights, it feels as if she is right next to you singing just for your ear.
Most Christmas albums come and go--popular the year they come out, and then buried on the back of the shelf. Kristin Chenoweth’s A Lovely Way To Spend Christmas is one of those rarities, like the Barbra Streisand Christmas Album or the Doris Day Christmas Album, that you will dig out year after year at Christmas, and maybe even sneak a guilty listen to once in a while outside of the holiday season.