I admit that my CD collection has an excess of 100 Christmas albums. I am a Christmas music junkie. Despite my considerable musical collection, and the fact that I have been preparing for the Edmonton Singing Christmas Tree since April, I still get excited when new releases come out each year.
This year’s top Christmas pick is Rod Stewart’s “Merry Christmas, Baby”. Stewart’s first-ever Christmas album is my top choice to make spirits bright come December.
Just like he did for the “American Songbook”, the two-time Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee, adds his raspy, well-seasoned voice to holiday classics like “White Christmas,” “Silent Night,” “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town, “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”, along with “Auld Lang Sine” . Throughout the album, Stewart, cleverly, takes the traditional melody and turns just a couple of notes around to keep your attention wrapped. In my opinion, the album’s most noteworthy moments are the duets.
On “Winter Wonderland,” Stewart, partnered with Michael Bublé, croon to set the seasonal mood by stirring up images of blanketed, snow-covered streets, snuggling by a cozy fire, hot chocolate in hand. The flamboyant Cee-Lo Green joins Stewart on the title track adding a Motown flavor to the Christmas classic. While, producer, David Foster plays the Rhodes piano, adding to the retro vibe.
“We Three Kings” was a surprise selection to me. Mary J. Blige infuses her soulfully passionate vocals along with a gospel choir, to this dynamic arrangement. “What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve?” features a virtual duet with Stewart and Ella Fitzgerald, showcasing one of my favorites trumpeters, Chris Botti.
“Merry Christmas, Baby” includes one original track: “Red-Suited Super Man” composed by Stewart, David and Amy Foster and featuring Trombone Shorty. It is a light-hearted, fun tune worthy to be included among all of these gems.
“Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow” is punctuated by the incomparable Dave Koz on sax, giving the composition a little more sass than this seasonal standard usually receives. Stewart offers a touching cover of the Disney favorite “When You Wish Upon a Star” as a perfect fit to a collection of songs conveying the innocence of childlike faith, hope and joy.
If you’re looking to add some joyful sound to your Christmas festivities, or if you have a Christmas music junkie in your circle of friends, this is worth the investment.