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| 11 December 2014 | Reply


Label: Warner Brothers Records

Release Date: October 14, 2014

Rating: 9/10

Reviewed by: Todd “Toddstar” Jolicoeur

I am not typically big on Christmas or holiday music, but there are a couple stand out releases – one of my personal favorites being A Twisted Christmas from Twisted Sister.  This year one of my favorite vocalists released a collection of her favorite holiday songs and I couldn’t wait to check it out.  Idina Menzel, on a high from her stint in Frozen and her NYC run in If/Then, took time out to put her own stamp on several holiday classics, others, and even an original tune.  “Do You Hear What I Hear” is standard fare and remains pretty true to the versions we are all accustomed to, as is Menzel’s rendition of “The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire).”  The latter features a touch of jazz, but doesn’t stray.  “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” takes the jazz approach to a new height and gives the song a sultry texture that compliments Idina’s voice.  “What Are You Doing On New Year’s Eve?” is one of the better tracks on the disc and really showcases the different tones and textures of Ms. Menzel’s voice.  After hearing this version, I would cancel ANY New Year’s Eve plans I had previously.  Putting her own mark on a Disney classic, “When You Wish Upon A Star,” Idina gives the song a slower tempo and mellower feel, while letting her voice give importance to the message.  “River” from Joni Mitchell is one of Menzel’s favorite Christmas-themed songs, according to the various press releases, and it is made obvious by her phenomenal delivery and update of this track.

Idina’s duet with Michael Buble, “Baby It’s Cold Outside” is a fun take on the track that allows each of the vocalists to do what they do best, as well as offering up some playful interaction throughout the song.  “All I Want For Christmas Is You” is a cool take on a recent holiday classic originally recorded by Mariah Carey.  Menzel’s big voice takes the song in a different direction, with more piano and less guitar.  I love the original, but this version gets the foot tapping and instantly puts me in the Christmas spirit.  The lone original track, “December Prayer,” is a beautiful song that encapsulates everything that the holidays and New Year seem to represent.  “Silent Night” runs close to the traditional arrangement, although a bit slower.  The real strength here is the mixture of traditional and modern, which Menzel does superbly on this track.  “Holly Jolly Christmas” is a swinging take on the original version, complete with jingle bells and a cool piano solo that combines with a bit of ad lib from Idina that gives the song a fun lift.  “White Christmas” closes the disc nicely with big vocals and an even bigger orchestral arrangement that accentuates the vocals and the mood of the track, including one of the most original arrangements that closes out the song.





Category: CD Reviews

About the Author ()

ToddStar - that's me... just a rocking accountant who had dreams of being a rock star. I get to do the next best thing to rocking the globe - I get to take pictures of the lucky ones that do. I love to shoot all genres of music and different types of performers. If it is related to music, I love to photograph it. I get to shoot and hang with not only some of my friends and idols, but some of the coolest people around today.

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