Christmas is just around the corner, and there couldn’t be a better gift to ring in the holidays and shift the tone of radio stations across the country than a Mariah Carey Christmas album.
Sarcasm and inevitable puns aside, Carey has delivered a fresh set of Christmas tunes well equipped with all-time favorites, new spins on venerable classics and just the right number of breathy riffs to hold people over until the time comes for another installment.
It’s been 16 years since Carey made a Christmas LP, and in the long hiatus between her bona fide 1994 album “Merry Christmas” and this Nov. 2 release, she has shifted countless times as an entertainer. Returning to her glamorous roots, Carey shines with upbeat tracks like “Oh Santa!” infusing hip-hop and gospel into songs Christmas lovers know all too well.
Smooth, jiving harmonies decorate the rest of the ballads, and Carey’s legendary five-octave range is featured prominently on the song “When Christmas Comes.” Celestial backup voices accompany some of the strongest, crispest vocals Carey has ever delivered on an album.
The CD doesn’t come without its flaws, though — timing being a key one. The only valid explanation for an out-of-the-blue Christmas album would be if there were some revolutionary take on the music. Instead, Carey’s album is as routine as they come. It’s no sin to take that traditional route — and probably smart given the recent bumps in Carey’s career — but it builds up anticipation of something that could have been more innovative.
There aren’t many surprises on this new CD, but with almost two decades separating the album from the last release, it’s safe to say that it was about time, Mariah.