Kristin opens the album with the wistful ballad I'll be home for Christmas, which comes round frequently on American Christmas albums and rightly so. Next comes Christmas Island, the Christmas song most closely identified with the Andrews sisters. People who follow my reviews know that I'm a huge fan of the Andrews sisters. It's always great to find covers of their songs, because it helps to draw people back to their music, but it is very rare for anybody to improve on the original recordings. Still, I love Kristin's version of Christmas Island, which is certainly a worthy tribute to the Andrews sisters and one of the best covers of any of their songs that I've ever heard.
Kristin also revives The Christmas waltz, which is a great song that doesn't appear on new Christmas albums as often as it once did. Or maybe it's coming back into fashion, as I was also pleased to find the song on Pam Tillis' recent album Just in time for Christmas. Next comes the familiar (but not excessively covered) Do you hear what I hear? Though I've heard several versions of this song, Kristin sounds as good as any of the others; she might even be the best of the lot.
With guest John Pizzarelli, Kristin performs a great medley of Sleigh ride / Marshmallow world. A long way removed from the separate versions of these songs to be found on the Phil Spector Christmas album, this is nevertheless a great medley that is well worth a listen. The next track is a revival of an old Carpenters song, Sing, with lyrics adapted for Christmas. Actually, I don't notice much change except that Kristin urges people to sing of peace and harmony, which is fair enough, and I`m glad that Kristin recorded it for this album. Still, it set me wondering what other Carpenters songs could be adapted for Christmas. Maybe somebody will rework Please Mr Postman? (OK so I know that it wasn't originally a Carpenters song, and I also know that they recorded two Christmas albums.)
Another very familiar Christmas song follows, this being Silver bells, one of my favorite Christmas standards. Next is Come on ring those bells, which appears to be an original song (I've not heard it elsewhere) and which has a distinct country sound to it. I wasn't expecting this, but Kristin is just as brilliant on this track as she is on the rest of the album. Next comes What child is this?, a familiar song that, as everybody should know, uses the tune of the old folk song Greensleeves.
Two more great songs that appear to be originals - Home on Christmas Day, Born on Christmas Day - and a medley of Sleep well little children / What a wonderful world complete an outstanding album. The last-named song isn't really a Christmas song but has increasingly been accepted as part of the Christmas repertoire and LeAnn Rimes used it as the title track to her Christmas album.
With a great track selection that blends familiar and obscure material, all of it superbly performed, this appears destined to become one of my most-played Christmas albums. Given the size of my Christmas music collection, that's really saying something. This Christmas albums has something for everybody and will work as background music or as an album to just sit and listen to. Listening to it is, as the title proclaims, a lovely way to spend Christmas. Well, part of Christmas anyway.