People across the country are singing to the classic Christmas tunes of Nat King Cole, Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby. However, this year, many might want to consider adding Francesca Battistelli to that nostalgic seasonal sound. Her recent release of carols is not one to be approached with caution - it is pure Christmas.
The collection of seasonal goodies opens with a very upbeat interpretation of "The Christmas Song." A beautiful orchestra and jazzy drums accompany Battistelli's satin sound. Christmas purists will surely enjoy the musical interlude as well. Modern ditties like "Heaven Everywhere" and "Christmas Is" capture a great expression of the Christmas spirit from an almost child-like perspective while keeping the central idea about Jesus. This is something that many artists don't seem to achieve with such excellence and finesse. It's the finding of pleasure, and at the center of that pleasure is the joy of Christ.
Battistelli's treatment of traditional sacred songs--"What Child is This," "O Come O Come Emmanuel," and "Joy to the World"--are handled with such wonderful respect. Her aim was clearly to not try and fix what isn't broken. She is even able to incorporate a hint of her country roots; even many non-country loving listeners will surely approve. The same can be said of her treatment to many popular but non-spiritual Christmas songs, like "Marshmallow World" and "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas." These are given a dash of honky-tonk that would make Brenda Lee want to have a Christmas Carol Battle.
Nevertheless, no track is able to out due "You're Here." The gorgeous simplicity of the acoustic guitar, soft drums, and piano combined with Battistelli's gospel-centered lyrics are the perfect combination for a lasting modern Christmas song. What a great reminder of the reason of Christmas as Francesca sings, "You're here… I'm staring into the face of my savior, king and creator. You could left us on our own but you're here." These powerful words are sung from the perspective of Mary, yet are completely relatable and can connect well with the listener.
The album wraps up with the ever so appropriate "Go Tell It On The Mountain." The conclusion is perfect with a very cherry finish that will bring that Christmas warmth to your heart. It will also have your feet tapping and your head bobbing.
Truth be told, this is a near flawless release. The music is executed with impeccable excellence and Battistelli's voice is at the top of her game. Who knew that Christmas music could sound this good? If you are a lover of Francesca's work or you just love Christmas, this album is begging and calling out your name. Before you buy another Christmas present, get this album. It will surely make your Christmas even merrier. Merry Christmas!
- Review date: 11/30/12, written by Ryan Barbee of Jesusfreakhideout.com