by Kaitlyn McCurdy
Yes, I know Christmas is over, thank you very much.
However, I’ve been ready for Christmas 2013 since December 26, 2012. So, if you’re like me, you’re already thinking about gifts, who to buy what for, and what you might want. You also might be planning the perfect time to finally re-watch National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation and listen to the best Christmas music.
Granted, all Christmas songs have been covered multiple times by multiple people in multiple ways. I work in retail, and, I must admit, some Christmas songs got old really fast this year (thanks a lot, Old Navy). Scotty McCreery, another American Idol alum (I seem to be on a trend here), hopes to add his own spin to his favorite Christmas classics with his newest release.
The album opens with the ever popular “Let It Snow.” It seems like everyone has to cover this song at some point in their career. McCreery’s voice does fit the song very well, and while it does have a bit of a twist to it, it’s very close to the traditional version I know and love. Well played.
“First Noel” is the second track. This song has always bored me, sorry. It generally puts me to sleep rather than getting me excited for the holidays. Not even McCreery can save it for me.
McCreery adds his own country twang to “Jingle Bells.” I can’t get behind it. The song is slowed to fit the typical, generic country beat, and it’s boring. Very, very boring. McCreery’s voice doesn’t sound that great either. It’s monotone and, again, could put you to sleep. Next please.
I never thought “Holly Jolly Christmas” could be covered badly, but, well… Again, country twang. I guess my distaste for most country music is showing (I only like some artists). It is upbeat and very easy to bop your head to, put overall, it’s nothing special. McCreery’s voice is much better, though.
“Window Wonderland” is probably one of the strongest on the album. His voice sounds great and the arrangement is fairly traditional. I apparently don’t like outrageous covers of Christmas songs (I’m looking at you, Bieber, for ruining “Drummer Boy”).
“Christmas in Heaven” is a new one to me. It is quite pretty, with its slow instrumental and McCreery’s lovely crooning. Whoever’s on the backup vocals is also quite talented. The song gradually builds, and it’s a nice, easy listen. Perfect for the holidays.
I’m introduced to more holiday music with “Mary Did You Know.” While the arrangement is fairly decent, it’s more heavily influenced by religion than most holiday music I like to listen to (yes, I also realize Christmas is a religious holiday, but that doesn’t mean I have to listen to the religious music). You’ll either love it or hate it, but it is an easy listen either way. But yeah, not for everyone. Moving on.
“Christmas Comin’ Round Again” has a country influence that I can get behind finally. McCreery’s country roots are much more subtle in this song, but rather than kill the song, it actually helps it. His voice is smooth and the arrangement is simple. I like this one a lot.
“O Holy Night” is fairly decent. It’s once again very traditional and doesn’t stand out from other covers. I was yawning halfway through. It doesn’t help that the song never really builds. Granted, “O Holy Night” has never been a favorite of mine to begin with (it’s really hard to review songs you have a background with, wow).
McCreery sticks to another more traditional arrangement with “The Christmas Song.” His voice sounds fantastic, but this is one track I was hoping for a twist on, to be honest. Another easy listen, and I’ll probably listen to it for Christmas 2013 while decorating the tree. It’s that kind of song.
The album comes to a close with “Santa Claus Is Back in Town.” Perfect ending. It’s kind of got a country-rock feel to it, and McCreery’s voice is strongest in this one. I like the risk he took with this one, it works well. Best song on the album; too bad it took so long to get us there.
Overall, the album is a decent release. While it does seem unusually early for McCreery to be considering a Christmas release, as most artists seem to wait until they’ve established themselves well enough in the industry, the album neither hurts nor helps McCreery. It’s a standard Christmas album with some unfortunate country influences, a couple nice risks, and some great traditional tracks. Not one of my favorite Christmas releases, but a few tracks will probably make it to my Christmas playlist for 2013.