Chris Young has one of the most distinctive voices in Country music. His husky, deep baritone sets him apart from every other male artist in the genre and over the past 18 month it’s helped him score two consecutive number 1 hits. Less than a year after the release of his fifth studio album I’m Comin’ Over, Young is putting out another album; this time a collection of festive songs ready for the holiday.
It Must Be Christmas features 10 tracks of which two are original compositions. The cover evokes the spirit of the holiday with Young dressed in a winter coat and scarf with a twinkling background of warm reds. Young opens the album with the familiar festive favourite The Christmas Song. A classy piano melody kicks the track off and in Young’s hands the song is given a laidback jazz feel, which eases you into the festive mood even if it is still October.
With so many artists releasing Christmas albums now, it can be hard to find anything unique or original about their efforts. A glance at the track listing for It Must Be Christmas shows that Young is tackling very well-known and oft-covered songs so is it worth your time and money? In short the answer is yes it is. Young keeps things classy across the 10 tracks and he stays away from the cheesier sounds that Christmas can contain.
Christmas (Baby Please Come Home), which is one of my favourite songs of the season, is one of the strongest moments on the record. Young’s voice is perfectly suited to the bluesy vibe of the song and it’s one of the only moments he goes balls out Christmas. Holly Jolly Christmas has a bouncy Country/Rock slant and Silent Night is beautifully understated with Young’s vocals soaring backed by Boyz II Men.
Yong teams up with Alan Jackson on a cover of Keith Whitley’s There’s a New Kid in Town and Brad Paisley features on a stirring rendition of The First Noel.
The two original tracks – Under the Weather and It Must Be Christmas – fit neatly into the album and they mix well with the other song choices. Sometimes an original track can stick out like a sore thumb but Young has crafted two that will be added to many a playlist for Christmases to come. Under the Weather is soulful romantic ballad and It Must Be Christmas is an emotive observation of the holiday season that will give you goosebumps.
The finest moment on the record comes on Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas. That song always makes me yearn for a sing song with friends and family around a burning fire and a piano. Young injects soul into the track and he doesn’t over sing it like many have done in the past. It’s not a song that needs bells and whistles (or screaming in Christina Aguilera’s case) and Young’s version is perfection.
It Must Be Christmas is a fantastic Christmas collection from Young. With only 10 tracks it doesn’t outstay it’s welcome and even two months before Christmas, I’ve had it on repeat a fair amount. With a voice like Young’s, he can sing pretty much anything and It Must Be Christmas could be the strongest new Christmas album to be released this year.
Track Listing: 1. The Christmas Song 2. Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) 3. Under the Weather 4. There’s a New Kid in Town (feat Alan Jackson) 5. Holly Jolly Christmas 6. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas 7. The First Noel (feat Brad Paisley) 8. I’ll Be Home For Christmas 9. Silent Night (feat Boyz II Men) 10. It Must Be Christmas Record Label: Sony Music Release Date: 14th October 2016