Blake Shelton, ‘Cheers, It’s Christmas’ – Album Review
Blake Shelton sets a high bar for 2012 holiday albums with ‘Cheers, It’s Christmas,’ his new collection of originals and classics. The singer with the sharpest tongue in Nashville doesn’t seem like a natural fit to reminisce of yuletide fun, but he’s supported by a strong stable of backup singers and collaborative partners on this offering.
Including the Pistol Annies to back him up on ‘Blue Christmas’ is an idea that’s too simple to call brilliant… But it’s brilliant. The trio is only listed on one of the 14 songs, but if feels like they’re present for at least two or three more. Miranda Lambert takes her husband’s hand on ‘Jingle Bell Rock.’ Michael Buble joins Shelton on a snowy reworking of ‘Home.’ Xenia from Season 1 of ‘The Voice’ resurfaces to help him sing ‘Silver Bells.’ These, along with Reba McEntire‘s appearance on ‘Oklahoma Christmas,’ are the highlights. It’s when Shelton is able to feed off the energy of another singer that he is at his best.
A few others feel forced. Shelton isn’t adding anything to ‘Winter Wonderland’ or ‘The Christmas Song.’ ‘There’s a New Kid in Town’ doesn’t really shine until Kelly Clarkson begins her verse. The ‘Honey Bee’ singer wisely gives Clarkson plenty of room to work, and her passion tops his. It’s a great duet — perhaps the best on the album — in the end.
Even with four originals, ‘The Voice’ coach avoids temptation to throw an irreverent joke song on ‘Cheers, It’s Christmas.’ This is slightly disappointing, but probably a wise decision. Fans don’t really know him as the big “family” guy who loves holidays as much as they know he loves Twitter, drinking and Adam Levine. By keeping it clean, he’s able to grow.
It would be rude not to give credit to Shelton’s mom, Dorothy Shackleford, who helped write and sings along with the famous singer on ‘Time for Me to Come Home,’ the penultimate song on the album. Her performance is simply charming, and it does more to add personality to the project than any other song. By making ‘Cheers, It’s Christmas’ a team effort, Shelton creates a project full of sweet Christmas cheer.