First Appeared in The Music Box, December 2006, Volume 13, #12
Written by Nancy Metzger
It seems amazing that midway through his fifth decade as a musician, James Taylor has finally issued a Christmas album. While literally thousands of holiday records already exist, perhaps few artists are as well suited as Taylor to providing the warm, cheerful, cozy-by-the-fire glow that every yuletide celebration needs. Partnering with renowned jazz pianist/composer Dave Grusin on 10 of the 12 tracks, Taylor serves up a country-jazz combo to many favorite tunes of the season. At Christmas begins with fabulous new takes on Winter Wonderland, the traditional Go Tell It on the Mountain, and Santa Claus is Coming to Town. Then it steps oddly into a version of Jingle Bells that feels like a holiday incarnation of Steamroller, invoking an image more of a raucous night of boozing than an innocent sleigh ride. Natalie Coleís guest vocals on Baby, Itís Cold Outside flawlessly complement the soft crooning by Taylor, and even their playful flirting feels fun not forced. The only true disappointment on the endeavor is the cover of Joni Mitchellís River. Given the similarity in vocal styles between Taylor and Mitchell, it ought to be a great match. However, Taylorís version not only misses the pinnacle of Mitchellís recording, but it also doesnít even come close to the renditions offered by the Indigo Girls and Travis. Still, for those who are seeking some new favorite variations on classic Yuletide fare or just a way to stay calm and serene during the hectic holiday season, At Christmas is the perfect companion. Ĺ
Of Further Interest...
At Christmas is available from
Barnes & Noble. To order, Click Here!
1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2006 The Music Box