Today’s POP RESCUE from a fate uncertain, is the 1993 festive album Christmas Through Your Eyes by Cuban-American singer and songwriter, Gloria Estefan. Is this album a winter wonderland, or is it more a wonder why it exists? Read on…
This 11 track album opens with Overture: Silver Bells and we’re straight in with the sleigh bells. Percussion drops in before a choir and brass section draws you in. There’s a full-on orchestra waiting for you as strings sweep in, before a little abruptly cutting to a bubbling upbeat pop track with Gloria singing this classic. It does sound a little like it’s taken from a Christmas movie. The brass returns to close this Overture.
The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire) and this track sounds really nice. Gloria gets to show off her rich vocals here, with some perfectly supporting backing vocals. The track doesn’t stray far from the style you’ll already be familiar with, and therefore it works perfectly despite the simple percussive beat and electric piano.
Up next is Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas and we’re treated here to some fantastic vocals from Gloria, and some beautiful heavenly backing vocal harmonies from Singers Unlimited. The track is stripped back to a cappella until the mid point when strings and woodwind join in, giving the track a real cosy old feeling as they get an instrumental section before Gloria returns for the final part. Absolutely beautiful.
A bouncing synth leads us into Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow, and it sounds quite pop for a while, and then a big band drops in halfway through, turning the track into brass filled song, with that synth part alongside it. It’s a slightly odd contrasting companion, but it works fine. The big band parts are far superior and a full big band version with Gloria’s vocals would have been better.
This Christmas is next, a hit for writer Donny Hathaway. Gloria takes this to a more jazzier style, and whilst it gives the song new territory, it doesn’t deliver as well as Donny’s version – his version would have given Gloria more of a vocal range challenge. Some kids turn up to sing (you knew there would be some at some point, right?), and they are a nice backdrop to Gloria as the track heads to it’s fade out.
A choir opens I’ll Be Home For Christmas, and this sounds like a more traditional interpretation that you’d expect from a Kings College Choir. The choir really is heavenly though, with Gloria joining them after a few minutes. The choir does become quite distracting for the chorus though, and to be honest, the focus of this song is the choir, with Gloria seemingly in support.
The old Irving Berlin song White Christmas is up next, and piano lead us into the first verse with gentle sleigh bells. Gloria sounds much stronger here, and she isn’t buried in the mix either. It’s a nice gentle wander through this classic song.
Traditional song Silent Night follows this, and we’re treated to another orchestra, with the woodwind section getting plenty of attention. Gloria’s voice handle this classic song perfectly, and together with the strings, it feels like a lullaby. The orchestra sits at an equal balance to the vocals, resulting in a really nice version. Gloria switches to Spanish for the final verse, and it works beautifully.
Original song, and titular track Christmas Through Your Eyes follows this, with Gloria taking a co-writer’s credit alongside songwriter royalty Diane Warren. This is light mid-tempo pop song about wishing to re-live Christmas as a child. It is a little reminiscent of her earlier hit Anything For You. It’s a nice little mellow song.
Arbolito De Navidad (translating to ‘Christmas Tree’), is a track entirely in Spanish language, and it is loaded with some wonderful acoustic guitars, bass, and percussion. Gloria sounds magnificent, and like she’s smiling the whole way through this recording.
The album closes with Christmas Auld Lang Syne, and Gloria delivers this class with ease, even getting to show off a bit of a vocal range at the end. Musically, an electric piano leads us through, and it does the job perfectly.
A Gloria Estefan Christmas album sounds really good on paper, and the choice of songs here is perfect. Sadly, some of the early 90’s arrangements makes these either not feeling ‘festive’ enough, or they have taken the 90’s pop/ballad route instead. This results in a Christmas album that’s not particularly memorable or Christmassy, but is still enjoyable as music for the background. The lone original song here is a nice addition.
Gloria’s vocals do shine here but I feel like we’re not getting her 100%, and I was really holding out for a powerful or soaring vocal, instead of a safe mid level. The Singers Unlimited choir, and orchestra really add some warmth to these familiar old hits.
- POP RESCUE 2020 RATING: 3 / 5
- 1993 UK ALBUM CHART PEAK: Did not chart in the UK.
- POP RESCUE COST: £3.46 from an eBay seller.