STYLE: Gospel RATING OUR PRODUCT CODE: 14206-11032 LABEL: EMI Gospel EGD73631 FORMAT: CD Album ITEMS: 1 RRP: £12.99
Reviewed by Gareth Paul Taylor
Classic soul fans will love this New Orleans soul man's yuletide offering. Reworked traditional carols sit alongside mainstream fare ("White Christmas") and some excellent new offerings. The reggae vibe of "Christmas Everyday", co-written by Neville and co-producer Milton Davis, could soon grace alternative Christmas compilations with its clear message:- "Messiah, help us to know you, not only on Sunday./On your birthday we celebrate.but sometimes we forget what you gave up for love." The Blind Boys Of Alabama feature on another highlight, "Joy To The World", lifted from their own marvellous 2003 Christmas album. Neville's voice, still soaring soulfully with characteristic vulnerability, strikingly resembles Antony Hegarty of Antony And The Johnsons fame. Not bad for a grandfather of six - (this year marks the 40th anniversary of his first American hit, "Tell It Like It Is"!) Schubert's "Ave Maria" even gets the unmistakeable Neville stamp: a beautiful arrangement highlighting his versatility and strong Catholic upbringing. New Orleans' recent devastation seems ever close: the American Red Cross will benefit from CD proceeds; "Amazing Grace" closes the album, a wordless verse of soulful, lamenting vocal improvisation leading into the rarely-heard verse "The world shall soon dissolve like snow/The sun forbear to shine/But God who called me here below/Will be forever mine." A stunning Christmas album.
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