One can never have too much Christmas music, right? Well, at least for me, the answer is a resounding NO. Especially when it comes to someone who shares my name :)
I first heard Kristin Chenoweth on her duet with Joshua Bell on his new album, At Home With Friends. Her version of "My Funny Valentine" was so great, I had to look her up to see who this angelic voice belonged to. Kristin has a strong stage background, having gained fame in the Broadway musical Wicked as Glinda the Good Witch of the North. She is a notable actress, having starred in several films such as Bewitched, The Pink Panther, Four Christmases, and Into Temptation. She has also appeared on the silver screen, with an Emmy-winning role as Olive on the now-cancelled Pushing Daisies and a hilarious guest spot on Glee.
A devout Christian, it has been Kristin's dream to record a Christmas album:
"I grew up listening to Barbra Streisand's Christmas album, and that was such an inspiration to me. Christmas is my favorite holiday and I am blessed and excited to be able to do my own Christmas album.”A Lovely Way To Spend Christmas contains acclaimed Christmas classics, as well as two original recordings, for an eclectic holiday mix.
1. I'll Be Home For Christmas*
2. Christmas Island - didn't really care for
3. Christmas Waltz
4. Do You Hear What I Hear?*
5. Sleigh Ride/Marshmallow World (feat. John Pizzarelli)
7. Silver Bells
8. Come On, Ring Those Bells - voice suited for country
9. What Child Is This?*
10. Home on Christmas Day - original
11. Born on Christmas Day - original
12. Sleep Well Little Children/What A Wonderful World*
If I hadn't been familiar with Kristin's previous work, I could have mistaken her pretty blonde looks on the album cover for pop star Jessica Simpson. But any resemblance stops right there. Kristin is an undeniable powerhouse in a pint-sized package. Her delicate, saccharin-sweet tone is poised and polished, exhibiting great control, vocal styling and range. Heck, she could sing the phone book or the dictionary and I'd listen with open ears. She just has a pure, graceful quality about her that I love. Her voice is truly a gift.
Among the 12 Christmas tracks are interpretations of traditional classics, including a few interesting medleys, and some lesser-known songs that I was unfamiliar with. The genres ranged from big band ("Sleigh Ride/Marshmallow World") to pop ("Home on Christmas Day") to full-on country twang ("Come On, Ring Those Bells"). My favorites have to be the endearing "I'll Be Home For Christmas", the ethereal "Do You Hear What I Hear?", and the epilogue medley "Sleep Well/Wonderful World", all of which gave me the warm fuzzies as I snuggled up on my couch, sheltering myself from the blustery winter cold. The only song I didn't really care for was "Christmas Island", perhaps because a tropical melody doesn't exactly evoke the spirit of a wintery holiday. At least not for me. I prefer seasonal songs like "Let It Snow" or "White Christmas" to put me in the Christmas mood.
All in all, I found the CD to be an intimate, refreshing take on Christmas classics. It sure is a lovely way to spend Christmas.
BUY IT: You can purchase Kristin Chenoweth's A Lovely Way To Spend Christmas at most major retailers or online at iTunes or Amazon (ARV $10.99).