Mini-Review: Martina McBride – The Classic Christmas Album

Martina McBride

The Classic Christmas Album (2013 Re-release of the 1998 album White Christmas)

Label: Sony Music Entertainment

Release Date: October 8th 2013 (Amazon mp3/iTunes)

Track Listing:

  1. Let it Snow
  2. Silver Bells
  3. The Christmas Song
  4. Do You Hear What I Hear?
  5. Hark! The Herald Angels Sing
  6. Away in a Manger
  7. Winter Wonderland
  8. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas
  9. Blue Christmas (feat. Elvis Presley)
  10. O Come All Ye Faithful
  11. Silent Night
  12. White Christmas
  13. Baby It’s Cold Outside (feat. Dean Martin)
  14. I’ll Be Home For Christmas
  15. What Child is This?
  16. O Holy Night

Initial thoughts: This is a 16 track album, unveiled to the world in 2013, which in turn was actually a re-release of a ten-track Christmas album given to us in 1998. 6 tracks have been added, and a whole lot of years later, this album full of carols is one of the most sold Christmas albums by a country artist in modern music history. Yes for me, I’ve felt this album was a little ‘the same’- big string numbers, powerful vocals, piano undertone, and then onto the next song. While the songs are good, the arrangements of each song leaves the album experience a little meshed together. Nothing against Martina herself, it just seems that this album as a whole, leaves much to be desired musically.

Reason to listen: If you’re a fan of Martina and her music or if you’re a fan of Christmas carols galore, with all the songs recorded in the exact same way.

Reason to buy: Sorry, Martina, but I really, really can’t really find any real reason to purchase this album. Just cherry-pick the songs on Spotify to listen to repeatedly. Otherwise, this album is only for the Martina McBride enthusiasts, and you can move onto another powerful Christmas album- like that of Lincoln Brewster or BarlowGirl.

Reason to skip: A lot though. Martina’s album full of carols, unfortunately doesn’t have any originally written tracks. A lot of the instrumentation seem to blend together after a while, and with a whopping 16 tracks, this album feels a little too long-winded. Maybe a few songs off the album and it’ll do a bit better.

No. of carols: 16 – all of them. Yes, all of them are carols and holiday tunes, in one form or another.

No. of originals: Zero, yes you heard me right, zero!

No of guest artists: 2. And here’s the kicker- Martina has a duet with Elvis Presley on one track, and Dean Martin on another- but when Martina recorded her bits for the duet, these artists she was supposed to be ‘dueting’ with, were dead. So I guess it’s not really a duet, duet, if it’s just Martina’s vocals being posted on a Elvis song and a Dean Martin song respectively!

Does it have heart?: Martina’s voice is soothing and emotive, passionate and calming, so I guess it does have heart. I mean, there isn’t as much power ballads and rousing/joyous Christmas anthems within these 16 tracks to decipher whether Martina does have heart or not. Nevertheless; Martina’s album is full of hope and though only carols, we are nevertheless reminded through these songs of the importance of them, from when they were written, to now.

Does it have a Christmas-y atmosphere?: The song arrangements are simple- acoustic guitars, keyboards, like percussion, and although all the songs individually are good, the lack of distinction between one song and the next brings down the experience for me, somewhat. The atmosphere as a whole is no different than various other Christmas albums in the 1990s/2000s, yet, this album didn’t live up to the hype that I actually gave it- being an album from Martina McBride, one of the most emotive and prolific artists in country music, I expected an atmosphere more rousing and joyous than what was received.

Uniqueness?: Not that unique though. With the album only full of carols, we’ve all heard these songs before, in some shape or form, as years have gone by. I guess only those who can fully appreciate these songs, are people who have enjoyed and followed Martina McBride’s music career from the start.

Christmas message: With the album full of carols, there are indeed a fair amount of songs that showcase the Christmas message of Christ being born during Christmastime. While we don’t know explicitly for sure, Martina’s own faith, it seems like she does have some sort of respect for people who have it- her 2007 song ‘Anyway’ was nominated for a Dove Award back in the day. The Classic Christmas Album is one such album that does its job at delivering songs that showcase the real meaning of Christmas, but on the whole, the album itself doesn’t have a wow factor that other similar-stylistic albums, like All I Really Want For Christmas (Steven Curtis Chapman), has.

Closing thoughts: Purchase this album only if you are an avid Martina McBride fan. Otherwise, it’s Spotify for you, and then choose the songs you want to listen to, as well.

3 songs to listen to: Do You Hear What I Hear?, O Holy Night, What Child is This?

Overall rating: 2.5/5

Yes/no; why/why not?: I personally wouldn’t. Mind you, the album is still ok to put on in the background when you’re setting up your Christmas tree, or eating Christmas lunch/dinner.

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