Every year recording artists from all genres put their usual music to one side to release a collection of Christmas songs. One that I didn’t expect was Gwen Stefani, who recently released her first Christmas album You Make It Feel Like Christmas. Rather than take the easy route and record a bunch of covers, Stefani opted to record a series of original songs with some Christmas classics mixed in for good measure.
You Make It Feel Like Christmas is the first new music from Stefani since her very underrated 2016 album This is What the Truth Feels Like. The album gets off on familiar territory with covers of Jingle Bells and Let It Snow. Stefani puts an old school spin on the tracks taking inspiration from The Andrews Sisters. The songs actually really suit her and I was surprised just how good her versions are, especially when these festive favourites have been recorded by a wealth of stars over the years.
My Gift Is You is the first of 6 original tracks on the album and it’s a real gem. The track was co-written by Stefani with Justin Tranter and Busbee and it injects soulful pop melodies into a festive string arrangement. It’s a beautiful and optimistic moment that really embraces the feeling of the season. It’s no one-off either as all of the originals on the record are really strong.
Blake Shelton pops up on the title track, You Make It Feel Like Christmas, and the chemistry between the real-life partners is sizzling. Their voices couldn’t be more different but somehow they work well together over the bouncy production and uptempo beat. The inspiration behind the originals is love and it’s clear that Stefani is very happy in her personal life right now. Never Kissed Anyone with Blue Eyes Before You is a throwback to old school soul and closing track Christmas Eve is a beautiful ballad that really showcases Stefani’s distinctive voice.
In terms of the covers Stefani transforms Wham’s Last Christmas into a harmony-filled and soulful midtempo track, she embraces a jazzier sound on the seductive Santa Baby, and gives White Christmas an uptempo makeover that surprisingly works. The best of the covers is the gorgeous Silent Night, which like many of the songs here, incorporates more of a beat than you’ll be used to hearing in traditional Christmas songs.
Stefani has delivered a fantastic set on You Make It Feel Like Christmas. Christmas albums can be very hard to get right and for every great one, you get a handful of duds. Stefani defies the odds though and she gets the balance between original songs and covers spot on. It’s been interesting to hear her stepping out of her comfort zone with her more recent music and she’s really delivering. You Make It Feel Like Christmas is going to be worn out in my house over the festive period.
Track listing: 1. Jingle Bells 2. Let It Snow 3. My Gift is You 4. Silent Night 5. When I Was a Little Girl 6. Last Christmas 7. You Make It Feel Like Christmas (feat Blake Shelton) 8. Under the Christmas Lights 9. Santa Baby 10. White Christmas 11. Never Kissed Anyone with Blue Eyes Before You 12. Christmas Eve Record label: Polydor Release date: 1st December 2017