Today’s POP RESCUE from a fate unknown, is the 2007 Miss Patti’s Christmas album by American singer and songwriter Patti LaBelle. Does this album glitter and sparkle, or is it a complete turkey? Read on…
The album opens with the sleigh bells and tinkling keyboards of new track Christmas Jam. A piano leads us into the song with a wonderfully funky lazy bass. Patti’s vocals are tender and soft, yet strong too and standing as a great contrast to this gentle RnB backing track. She really gets to show off that vocal power, set alongside some nice warm unintrusive backing vocals. A really nice welcome to the album.
Next is the familiar classic It’s The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year. Again, we’re in a wonderfully simple and slow RnB sound. Patti gets a much more laid-back range here and she delivers these classic lyrics with almost a swagger. The backing vocals are once again a delight, ensuring that the warm vocal layers give a stage from which Patti can show off from. Great stuff!
What Do The Lonely Do At Chistmas? follows this, and leads straight into high range vocals, and giving her all on this cover of The Emotions 1970s hit. The song then switches to a beautiful mid-tempo vocal heavy track. At times, I’m reminded of peak Eternal vocal range, but Patti sounds like she makes lighter work of this range. The track was released as a single in the US rather than the UK, where it reached #40.
Guitar and piano open Holidays Mean More To Me, and it’s another new song. Lyrically it’s quite moralistic, but that aside, Patti gets to show off her vocals set against an evolving song. She’s joined by strings and a gentle brushed set of percussion. It’s a slow number, but this fits perfectly with this clearly reminiscent song. You’d likely play this in the background of something and not notice it pass.
It’s Going To Be A Merry Christmas follows this, and again it’s another original. Some lovely strings lead us along the first verse, with finger clicks in support. Again, Patti shines here, making the track sound like it was a breeze to record.
Next is a cover of Do You Hear What I Hear? laden with guitars. It starts off very simply and takes almost a Craig David 7 Days approach. Sadly, the song doesn’t build, despite Patti’s vocals clearly building as the song’s narrative flows through the verses. Vocally it’s great, but musically with some more power from an orchestra behind her, this song could have shone far better.
New track Nativity is up next and this very much doesn’t sound like a Christmas song, but is a vocal and rap version of the nativity. Musically it’s really catchy and has some wonderful sample hooks in it, but it feels wasted on these lyrics. Instead, it could have given Patti a hit, or even Janet Jackson with new lyrics.
The Soul Seekers join Patti for next song Jesus, Oh What A Wonderful Child. This is a traditional song, and this collaboration definitely takes that on board. It is a wonderful vocal laden gospel track, with Patti and The Soul Seekers shining. They’re joined by a brass section towards the end, and that really gives them something to duel with… and boy, they really go for it!
Next is a cover of the Luther Vandross hit (co-written with Richard Marx) Every Year, Every Christmas. The piano and finger snaps return, along with a simple mid-tempo beat that all keep out of the way to allow Patti to shine again. She gets plenty of big vocals here, particularly alongside the piano, and it sounds great. She even gives a loving message to us and Luther at the end.
The album closes with the traditional carol Away In A Manager. This version is wonderfully light and up-tempo. Patti and piano sound delightful together as a brushed set of drums gently guide us along. It’s a perfect closing to this album, and a joy to hear.
Over all, this album is a wonderfully warm little Christmas album. The best part of this album is very much Patti’s vocals, the power, and the range. She really gets to shine here in the simpler songs.
She does get a bit buried in the more modern songs, and it feels a little like they weren’t necessarily written with her in mind.
It has some nice moments – Away In A Manger, It’s The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year, What Do The Lonely Do For Christmas?, and Jesus… are the highs, but a couple of other tracks are just directionless, or wasted on her vocals.
- POP RESCUE 2020 RATING: 3 / 5
- 2007 UK ALBUM CHART PEAK: Did not chart in UK.
- POP RESCUE COST: £4.49 from an eBay seller.