2013 Grammy Nomination for Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album
Yup, a Christmas album. You betcha. Carole King is a classic, wonderful winger whom I hold a ton of respect for, and it'll be cool to hear her take on a handful of traditional Christmas songs we're so used to hearing being done by other singers. But she's Carole-frickin-King, so let's do this.
Naturally, we get a more jazz-based feel to her take on songs, as "My Favorite Things" is very far from Maria's rendition in "The Sound of Music." The only thing I'll need to get out of the way here as early as possible is that Carole's voice is not like is used to be. It's not bad, just a little more tired. She's singing like she needs to take it easier than usual.
"Carol of the Bells" (no clever little use of the name on this one) is the shortest song on the album, and is just a little odd to hear coming from a solo voice. I mean, there are backup singers, perhaps even a choir, but it's mostly Carole. At least we can really, really hear the words and follow along, but this is one I would have absolutely never expected to hear on a solo album. I guess in a way that makes it kind of cool?
Welp, onward and upward. "Sleigh Ride" is simple enough. It's got the classic melody, nothing fancy, and is the same sort of fun the song has always been. Sorry folks, I'm trying here. Carole's voice just ain't what it used to be.
"Christmas Paradise" is a nice little difference for the album! I've never heard this before, to my recollection, so excuse me if I'm wrong, but sounds like we have a new sound going on. There's a light salsa beat happening to back the cute lyrics about heading to the islands for the holidays (which some do - screw snow sometimes, right?) Overall, a cute little break from the typical Christmas tunes we're used to hearing.
Sweet little country-big band combo sound for "Everyday Will Be Like A Holiday." Granted, I tuned back in on the part about the guy being gone and saying he'll be home soon and, ladies and gents, that's when everyday will be like a holiday. Ah, sad Christmas songs. I'm trying to hold out on this one for the happy ending. I mean, it has to happen eventually, right? Ooh, Key change, that's promising… and no. We're left wondering. Sigh.
"Chanukah Prayer" rounds out this holiday album pretty nicely. My mom pointed out that she's Jewish (still not sure, but cool either way). Weird hearing this recorded on an album and with a piano though. Seriously, give it a listen if you get a chance. I think she's singing with her daughter as well (sorry if it's another little girl of no relation, just making an assumption here). Anywhos, it's a really lovely recording for the middle of the album. Seriously, nicely done.
My favorite Christmas song - "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas." It's a tough song to get just right, and has to be pretty smooth to make the right impact. Unfortunately, Carole's voice comes into play again here, kind of changing they way I can hear the song. It's gentle though, and that makes it a little more digestible.
"I've Got My Love To Keep Me Warm" is supposed to be one of the more romantic songs for Christmas time. Here, it's very light and not as hearty as one might hope. It does, however, have a sense of being around the piano and a gorgeous Christmas party and watching the snow start falling lightly outside. Hey, one can dream, right?
Yah know, I think Carole just hit her stride here with "Christmas in the Air." It's a nice little jazz-y number about Christmas in New York. Granted, it's got more vocals backing her in a different recording style, so that may have helped things out a little bit. But overall, I appreciate her approach to a different kind of Christmas song for us!
"Do You Hear What I Hear" brings us back to the traditional sound. One lady's voice accompanied by a piano and a simple percussion instrument. Oh, there's the drummer boy's snare. It's simple a lovingly done.
One of my holiday favorite, "This Christmas" comes up next. I always liked this song because of the R&B feel it gives, yet it's considered a classic at this point too. Now, Carole's take on it comes across as a little dry. The music is the same as so many versions I've heard before, but there's just something lacking that all the other songs possessed.
"New Year's Day" finishes things off. I have to say, I love it when holiday albums round out with a New Year's song. Thanks N*Sync. This one is very light and reminiscent of the previous year, and just sort of lulls us gently into the next year.
- "Christmas in the Air"
Welp, here's the thing. Carole King is up there in years and not the same in her voice. I'm never going to hold that against her though, because hell, it's Carole-frickin'-King. She can do what she wants. I'm just glad she's still doing it.