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Christmas Means Love
     

Christmas Means Love

by Joan Osborne
 
For Joan Osborne, Christmas is a bluesy, soulful affair, uplifting but tinged with melancholy. And it makes for stirring music. Christmas Means Love follows in the tradition of How Sweet It Is, Osborne's album of soul covers: Backed by a rootsy blues band and, on some songs, a female chorus, she sings her heart out. Or

Overview

For Joan Osborne, Christmas is a bluesy, soulful affair, uplifting but tinged with melancholy. And it makes for stirring music. Christmas Means Love follows in the tradition of How Sweet It Is, Osborne's album of soul covers: Backed by a rootsy blues band and, on some songs, a female chorus, she sings her heart out. Or maybe she's just singing with her heart out, with direct emotion. Osborne's no show-off: She avoids superfluous pyrotechnics in favor of deep-pocket soul grooves that let these songs and carols simmer and smolder. On the airy "Christmas in New Orleans," Osborne is lighthearted and intimate, backed by acoustic guitars and a jazzy harmonica. On "Cherry Tree Carol" and "Children Go Where I Send Thee," she slips into gospel mode, the former song accented with slide guitar and organ, the latter with a slinky, swampy electric groove that nods to the Staple Singers. One minute, she's playing it straight and somber on the beautifully spare "Angels We Have Heard On High"; the next, she's sassy and sexy on the country blues of "What Do Bad Girls Get?" A mix of the secular ("Santa Claus Baby") and the sacred ("Away in a Manger"), Osborne's Christmas Means Love takes a wonderfully earthy approach to heavenly music.

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Thom Jurek
Issued originally in 2005, Christmas Means Love was a Barnes & Noble exclusive. After signing her, Time Life decided to widely reissue this 11-song Christmas album by Joan Osborne. Is it necessary? Not really, but no one really needs any Christmas record. Osborne's voice being what it is, she could sing the back of a cereal box and make it interesting. The program here is diverse, centered on rhythm and blues, with gospel tunes, carols, and blues rounding it out. Osborne contributed one song to the mix, her own blues "What Do Bad Girls Get," which is a new take on an old theme. As for the traditional carols, there are five, including a country version of "Away in a Manger," a beautiful gospel rendering -- inspired no doubt by Mavis Staples' reading of the song -- of "Silent Night," a folksy version of "Angels We Have Heard On High" with so much reverb, her voice is indistinguishable from Emmylou Harris'. Bummer. Far more successful is the radical revisioning of "Children Go Where I Send Thee" full of blues and funky gospel. Better still is her version of Robbie Robertson's "Christmas Must Be Tonight" with its world-weary ethos imbued with just a glimmer of hope, and the breezy "Christmas in New Orleans," written by Joe Van Winkle and Dick Sherman. On "Great Day in December" Osborne wears the deep influence of Etta James on her sleeve, and the Andrews Sisters-sing-the-jump-blues version of "Santa Claus Blues" is solid, if a novelty tune. It's a mixed bag, to be sure, but still unlikely to be like "all the other" Christmas records on your shelf.

Product Details

Release Date:
09/11/2007
Label:
Time Life Records
UPC:
0610583212228
catalogNumber:
19479

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