Rs 395; Rating: ***1/2
Out of the many Christmas albums available this season,we pick Canadian singer and songwriter Michael Bubles latest offering,Christmas,for the simple reason that it is affectionate,relaxed and perfect for the holiday mood. Buble has cherry-picked classic Christmas songs,and presented them in the 50s and 60s swinging style in his deep,doozy and smooth voice.
As Buble sings the beautiful and swinging Its Beginning to look a lot like Christmas and Santa Claus is coming to town,you are almost transported to the perfect holiday setting: chestnuts being roasted on the open fire,turkey being prepared in the oven,gifts being wrapped,and an Xmas tree being decorated. A little band music and some rhythm from the bass guitar will always make people tap their feet,and that is what this album does.
Bubles keyboard-based pop-ballad style,coupled with his baritone voice,seems like an ode to Frank Sinatra. But isnt Sinatra inimitable? Buble hasnt copied him,but has done the classics proud by putting in Sinatra-ish and Bing Crosby-style music arrangements,and has sung the songs extremely comfortably with the Broadway-specific horn arrangements in the background.
In Jingle bells,a collaboration with UK-based band Puppini Sisters,the slightly off-beat and close harmony style of the girls works beautifully with Bubles relaxed voice. This is followed by White Christmas,a collaboration with Shania Twain,who sort of leaves her country style to give a jazzy feel to the song,while singing parts of it in falsetto. Buble gives a slow touch to Mariah Careys All I want for Christmas is you,the otherwise buoyant,upbeat song by the American singer. The music arrangements are gracious and simple,with keys,bass,saxophone and drums doing most of the work.
In the popular hymn,Silent night,Buble is accompanied by a childrens choir. The harmony is nice and sweet,but doesnt stay for long. Two songs that sound slightly more contemporary are Baby please come home and Cold December night. The moment Buble strays from his style,things seem to fall apart. But they come back to order with the wonderfully slow ballad,Ave Maria and the Puerto Rican song Feliz Navidad,a collaboration with Mexican singer Thalia.
The 15-track album may be too much of a good thing,youd think. But when you put up that tree and wrap those gifts,and when the corn is popping and the fire delightful,this will be perfect. Even overwhelming.