Mini-Review: Katharine McPhee – Christmas Is The Time To Say I Love You

Katharine McPhee

Christmas Is The Time To Say I Love You

Label: UMG Recordings / Verve Music Group

Release Date: October 12th 2010 (Amazon mp3/iTunes)

Track Listing:

  1. Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas (feat. Chris Botti)
  2. Jingle Bells
  3. It’s Not Christmas Without You
  4. O Holy Night
  5. Silver Bells
  6. Christmas Is The Time
  7. O Little Town Of Bethlehem / Away In A Manger
  8. What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve?
  9. White Christmas
  10. Who Would Imagine A King?
  11. It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas

Initial thoughts: Katharine McPhee, famous for her acting roles on Smash and Scorpion, has delivered a vocal masterclass in this compelling and stirring traditional yet equally profound and comforting Christmas album. It’s an underrated project, because Katharine I don’t think has ever been popular, but this is an album that is a must-buy.

Reason to listen: Katharine’s moving, impacting and ethereal voice is special, out of this world and incredibly magical. It should be a joy and an honour to listen to Katharine’s vocal performance on any album. The fact that this is one of the vocally strongest Christmas albums I’ve heard in a long time, is a big bonus.

Reason to buy: For Katharine’s heavenly and exquisite vocals, for the performance of “O Holy Night” alone, for the joy, cheer and infectious happiness that Katharine exudes upon every track… take your pick! Any and all of the reasons above, plus many, many more than you and I can think of!

Reason to skip: Skip a Katharine McPhee album, especially an album full of Christmas songs that Katharine sings to perfection? Why would you skip such a powerful and heart-warming album?

No. of carols/holiday songs: 8, inclusive of 6 holiday songs and 2 worshipful carols

No. of originals/covers: 3, inclusive of a Whitney Houston cover and a Billy Squier song

No of guest artists: 1 (Chris Botti on track 1, although he is a trumpeter, so I guess that doesn’t count)

Does it have heart?: Katharine’s contagious celebratory spirit and her passion are evidently full on display here. This album has heart and heart to the max. Many songs are repeatable listens, and I cannot praise this project enough!

Does it have a Christmas-y atmosphere?: There are limited bells and whistles and Christmas shakers and children’s choirs. But with Katharine’s dreamy and enchanting vocals; the missing details of what makes a Christmas album become insignificant. The piano melodies on their own turn this album into one that does have a Christmas atmosphere, if that makes any sense.

Uniqueness?: Not really. There are a million Christmas albums that are probably technically better than Katharine’s. But her sheer brilliant vocal talent and her ability to transport us all to a special and magical place is what sets this project apart from so many others.

Christmas message: Katharine sings with fervour and purpose in “O Holy Night”, “Who Would Imagine A King?” and “O Little Town Of Bethlehem / Away In A Manger”. There is a Christmas message about Jesus that is present here. But the holiday message about friends and family is stronger; and for a mainstream Christmas album, that’s ok- this is what I expected after all.

Closing thoughts: There’s nothing much more I need to say than to buy this album when you can. You won’t regret it, because Katharine is a powerful, moving and inspiring singer and storyteller. As an actor though… well, let’s just say that singing is what I believe is Katharine’s stronger suit.

3 songs to listen to: O Holy Night, Christmas Is The Time, Who Would Imagine A King

Overall rating: 4.5/5

Yes/no; why/why not?: Yes, for all the reasons above. Do I need to repeat myself when all of the positive overwhelming evidence is presented to us already?

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