Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News
For centuries, carols have been used to reinforce the central message of Christmas as well as express seasonal messages of peace on Earth, feelings of joy, hope for the future and the goodness of spirit. As secular songs have come along, they, too, have been incorporated into the fun and festivities.
Each year brings new offerings and interpretations of old classics. Here's a look at some of what the 2010 season has to offer:
DAVID BLASUCCI, "The Christmas Album" (Covenant).
David Blasucci's musical career has included touring with Bo Didley and Bobby Kimball (TOTO), opening for the likes of Rod Stewart, Hootie and the Blowfish, playing with Bruce Springsteen and singing a duet with Donny Osmond. He's appeared on screen, had a song nominated for a Oscar and was highlighted a soundtrack that won a Grammy. So, he brings a lot of experience to his Christmas project, his second CD for the local market. He offers a mellow take on the holidays with his acoustic guitar and smooth lyrics; there's a bit of soft jazz and blues tossed in for good measure. His original "Santa's Coming" joins traditional carols and songs such as "Away in a Manger," "Mary, Did You Know?" "Do You Hear What I Hear?" and "Breath of Heaven."
ALEX BOYE, "My Christmas Wish" (Shadow Mountain).
Before devoting his talents to inspirational music, British-born Alex Boye was the lead singer for the European boy band Awesome. So it's not surprising you get a blend of pop and rock as well as neo-soul and gospel on his first Christmas album. "I see it as a fun mix of Nat King Cole and Ray Charles, with a touch of Frank Sinatra tossed in," he says. He gives this treatment to spirituals and carols such as "Go Tell It on the Mountain" and "What Child Is This," as well as familiar melodies such as "Christmas Time Is Here." His original title track offers a poignant message for our times.
SUSAN BOYLE, "The Gift" (Sony Music).
The British singer who grabbed international attention when she appeared on the reality TV show, "Britain's Got Talent" and has had some ups and downs since, turns her attention and talents to Christmas with a lovely collection of seasonal songs. Included are traditional carols such as "The First Noel," "O Holy Night" and "Away In a Manger." She also takes songs such as "Perfect Day," Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" and "Don't Dream It's Over" and gives them a nice seasonal context. The collection is simple, straightforward and beautiful and entirely suited to her voice and style.
ARTURO DELMONI AND FRIENDS, "A String Quartet Christmas" (Listen).
There is something to be said for "sincere, straightforward renditions" of Christmas music, and this three-disc collection says it well. Originally released as three albums in the late 1990s, they are combined in this set, which includes practically every carol you can think of (as well as some you may not know, such as "O Little One Sweet," "Lute-Book Carol" and "Six Noels for Harp.") In all, there are nearly three hours of string quartet magic and joy that can't help but put you in a mellow mood.
DR. ELMO, "Bluegrass Christmas" (Time Life).
Elmo Shropshire started out as a bluegrass artist and then had the fortune (or misfortune, as he might say) to write "Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer," which sent his career into the humor genre with a vengeance. He returns to his roots in this collection of toe-tapping, banjo-picking, unabashedly twangy bluegrass carols. Traditional songs such as "Greensleeves," "Jingle Bells," "Deck the Halls" and "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring" are mixed with originals such as "Come on Boys It's Christmas," "Here's to the Lonely," and "Feels Like Christmas." And, yes, "Grandma" does show up, but in a lively, rollicking all-instrumental version.
JACKIE EVANCHO, "O Holy Night" (SYCO/Columbia).
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