Neil Diamond - A Cherry Cherry Christmas

Neil Diamond
A Cherry Cherry Christmas

(Columbia)

First Appeared in The Music Box, December 2009, Volume 16, #12

Written by John Metzger

Tue December 15, 2009, 06:30 AM CST

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Fans who might have been hoping for a hint at the direction in which Neil Diamond is leaning in the wake of his sterling comeback Home before Dark will find that their plans have been thwarted by the approach that he took to his latest holiday-oriented endeavor A Cherry Cherry Christmas. Aside from a handful of newly recorded tracks, the bulk of the collection was culled from Diamondís previous attempts at tackling an array of secular and spiritual songs ó The Christmas Album and The Christmas Album, Volume II. Considering that neither of these outings was terribly successful in the first place, A Cherry Cherry Christmas doesnít seem to stand much of a chance of faring any better.

Fortunately, it is apparent that Diamond is aware of the deficiencies of his previous Yuletide outings. The songs he included on A Cherry Cherry Christmas are designed to showcase a diverse range of styles. He mixes and matches the material in an effort to downplay its weaknesses. If there is one consistent thing about Diamondís performances, it is his unbridled enthusiasm. Whether heís channeling Frank Sinatra (Sleigh Ride) or singing with a barbershop quartet (Deck the Halls/We Wish You a Merry Christmas), he never fails to give everything he has to the delivery of the lyrics.

For the most part, A Cherry Cherry Christmas fares reasonably well when it is relegated to being background music. If it is given too much attention, however, its problems quickly emerge. At times, the arrangements are so sterile and lifeless that it sounds as if Diamond is singing along to a karaoke soundtrack. As a result, both The Christmas Song and You Make It Feel Like Christmas suffer considerably. Even his jazzy reading of Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas feels slight. Elsewhere, with the help of a choir of children, Diamond unleashes an over-the-top rendition of Joy to the World that feels like it is a spoof of his arena-made image.

With this in mind, the opening and closing tracks on A Cherry Cherry Christmas might be the best indication of Diamondís intent. On the title tune, he builds a playfully lighthearted ditty by weaving together the titles to many of his well-known compositions. He also offers his own interpretation of Adam Sandlerís goofy anthem The Chanukah Song. In the end, Diamond seems to be saying that A Cherry Cherry Christmas is not to be taken seriously. Instead, it should be viewed as good, clean fun. Perhaps, it is nothing more than a way of wiping the slate clean in order to reduce the expectations that began to mount after the success of Home before Dark. starstar Ĺ

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Of Further Interest...

Harry Connick, Jr. - What a Night! A Christmas Album

Bob Dylan - Christmas in the Heart

Various Artists - A Christmas Gift for You from Phil Spector

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A Cherry Cherry Christmas is available from
Barnes & Noble. To order, Click Here!

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Ratings

1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!

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Copyright © 2009 The Music Box