CD: Katherine Jenkins - This Is Christmas | New music reviews, news & interviews
CD: Katherine Jenkins - This Is Christmas
Welsh crossover diva's seasonal offering
Does this disc succeed in doing what it sets out to do? Yes, it does, which makes my minor carpings irrelevant. It’s already selling in industrial quantities. But, to quote a review of another Christmas album on this site, “an album full of tunes you’ve been hearing all your life needs to be adept at reinvention”, and too many of the traditional numbers featured here follow the same template – gloopy, synthetic sounding production values and glacial tempi. Experience has convinced me that carols can be most emotionally potent when they’re sung by untrained, youthful voices. We’ve all welled up watching school nativity plays.
Jenkins’s light mezzo voice never sounds forced, and you wonder how she’d cut it in opera. But she rarely sounds fully engaged. Understandable, given that these tracks were probably recorded on a hot summer’s day. O Come O Come Emmanuel and Away in a Manger exemplify the album’s shortcomings. Both are slow and resolutely earthbound, despite Sally Herbert’s classy backing orchestra, full of A-list orchestral players. But turn to the lighter fare and the mood abruptly lifts. Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire is undeniably sweet, and Jenkins even manages to make Santa Baby her own, without eclipsing Eartha Kitt’s original.
John Rutter’s I Wish You Christmas’s schmaltzy harmonies confirm its place as a modern classic, and Sally Herbert’s arrangement of the Wexford Carol will induce a few tingles. The sensitive may wish to avoid the CD's two closing numbers. Come What May has been hyped as a duet with Placido Domingo, though it’s clear that his heavily-accented, vibrato-laden contribution was added afterwards. In a different country, presumably. O Holy Night, pairing Jenkins with Nathan Pacheco, is yet more saccharine. This is not a classical CD, though it's riding high in the classical charts. Jenkins herself would be the last to claim that she's a serious classical artist. And as such, it's fine.
Subscribe to theartsdesk.com
Thank you for continuing to read our work on theartsdesk.com. For unlimited access to every article in its entirety, including our archive of more than 10,000 pieces, we're asking for £2.95 per month or £25 per year. We feel it's a very good deal, and hope you do too.
To take an annual subscription now simply click here.
And if you're looking for that extra gift for a friend or family member, why not treat them to a theartsdesk.com gift subscription?
more New music
Their eight album - and first in over a decade - could be one of their best.
Pathé News rock'n'rave from an eccentric, independent and very English success story
Reich and Korot's dynamic reflections on 'progress' get new life from a young ensemble
Promising young Swedish songwriter reinvents pastoral folk
Her talent may be special, but the evening never truly rocked for the singer-songwriter
Ambitious and imaginative US-Dutch collaboration thrills at every turn
Canadian songwriter talks yoga, dogs, hipsters and much more besides
Electronica veteran returns with some challenging but engaging sounds
The great soulman, who has died, on the creation of his classic ballad
Nu-jazz funksters revel in old-school melodic improvising
Defiintive reissue of essential debut album from influential folk stylist
A third album worth shouting about from US indie rockers