Looking For A Christmas Soundtrack? Go For ‘Cheers, It’s Christmas’ With Blake Shelton! – Review
Blake Shelton released his first Christmas album ‘Cheers, It’s Christmas’ on October 2nd, which I always feel is far too early to even be considering Christmas, and I’m amazed that Christmas albums do well around that time, but it seems to widespread practice! If you’re looking for a soundtrack to take you through the Christmas period and beyond and bring you lots of festive cheer, I’d say this album is a safe, classic bet that I’ve actually bought the physical CD of (and paid to have it imported), which if you knew me you’d know that it’s serious. There are four totally original songs ‘Oklahoma Christmas’, ‘Santa’s Got A Choo Choo Train’, ‘Time For Me To Come Home’ and ‘The Very Best Time Of Year’. In addition, his Michael Buble duet on ‘Home’ (the song of Buble’s that Blake covered a few years ago) has been rewritten by the pair to be totally Christmas-themed.
There are also an abundance of duets on this album. His wife Miranda Lambert, Reba McEntire, Kelly Clarkson, the previously mentioned Michael Buble, Pistol Annies, Xenia, Dorothy Shackleford and Trypta-Phunk. So a lot to keep you entertained! The different artists bring a lot of different elements but the general sonic feel is of a classic, smooth, orchestrated sound, with touches of swing music that are so often linked to Christmas music. It’s not particularly country, but I think that often you can ascribe Christmas music as a genre of its own because of how it is so often played. However, that’s not to say that country is absent from ‘Cheers, It’s Christmas’. ‘Oklahoma Christmas’ with Reba definitely tips its hat to country, there’s a Keith Whitley cover with ‘There’s A New Kid In Town’, and one of the original songs ‘Santa’s Got A Choo Choo Train’ is in line with a very Western country vibe, as well as the cover of Elvis’ ‘Blue Christmas’.
My favorite is probably ‘Home’. Though it does feel strange to hear it completely rewritten and many people probably feel it has cheapened it, it’s just such a fantastic song universally that the delicate and romantic (not OTT) approach to lyrical edits simply compliment it. Sometimes I do think the number of syllables don’t match up, but perhaps I just need to listen to it more. Though she isn’t credited, I’m pretty sure Miranda Lambert is the one singing the prominent backing vocals, I suppose because she sung on it with Blake when he released his first cover of it. It’s a wonderful match, and the harmonies are beautiful.
There are many well-known and well-covered classics on this album, such as ‘Let It Snow!’ and ‘The Christmas Song’. Generally Blake keeps pretty close to original arrangements of these songs, and the instrumentation is very predictably orchestral. I feel like it would have been nice to mix it up a little at times, but you could argue that these classics don’t need messing about with. Either way it actually makes for one of those albums that, to be cheesy, pretty much everyone can enjoy, it’s nicely middle of the road and I can see a lot of people having it on while the family are round this Christmas. I’ll certainly be playing it loudly, much to my boyfriend’s disappoint I think! For those of Blake’s fans who prefer more of a proper country sound, this probably isn’t for you, because despite the elements it is very Nashville Sound to your Honky-Tonk. As in, it’s very smooth and ‘nice’ and doesn’t have much of an edge to it, although it’s obvious he’s tried to throw a bit of his stamp on it.
Overall it’s a multi-functioning album that will definitely be my soundtrack to Christmas this year, and I think above other releases in 2012, has plenty of tracks, plenty of varied duets, several original songs, some good ol’ country elements yet keeping it smooth and classic so everyone will be able to enjoy it. I really recommend it, although I’m not sure about how airbrushed he is on the cover!