STYLE: MOR / Soft Pop RATING OUR PRODUCT CODE: 50260-15215 LABEL: Indelible 0700342 FORMAT: CD Album ITEMS: 1 RELEASE DATE: 2008-11-28 RRP: £13.00
Reviewed by Paul Poulton
Some people dislike Christmas albums simply because they're Christmas albums. It is reasoned that the music can't have much if any artistic value because they are churned out simply to cater for the sentimentality of people who are susceptible to seasonal market forces. Some bands and artists have come a cropper by releasing them, albums that have lacked inspiration and obviously released because everyone else has a Christmas album out so they should follow suit as soon as possible. Worship leader Travis Cottrell's seasonal CD of last Yuletide has the acclaimed Brown Bannister producing, it also has the London Session Orchestra in tow, so that's a good start. A sprightly "Hark The Herald" complete with big brass parts and the Travis' Christmas Choir (over 30 male and female voices strong) kick proceedings off. The ensuing tracks are rich and replete with big studio resonance, but is it art? Yes, I think it is and pretty good art too. The timing has a classical feel and doesn't groove in too many places, but what it does it does well. This may be middle of the road but when we're in the right mood for it, it can be quite uplifting. Travis has a rich baritone voice and even in the middle of a large orchestral surround-sound is commanding and compelling. What's hard for contemporary music lovers to swallow (me included) is the affected singing and blatant slushiness of "Home Again For Christmas". Bing Crosby and Dean Martin covered that ground and did it well so maybe it should be left there. "Let It Snow" receives a similar treatment, but for the coda of "Frosty The Snowman" there is a wonderful 1940s close harmony female bebop's backing vocal that is a treat to listen to. This may sometimes fall into some of the traps and excesses of assembly line festive music but there is just too much quality here to dismiss it completely.
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"Ring the Bells" features some well-known classics and six newly recorded Christmas songs soon to be favourites of everyone.