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Thursday, October 22, 2009

David Archuleta Christmas CD Review: Beautiful, But...

If there was ever an “Idol” who was meant to record an album of traditional Christmas songs, it’s David Archuleta.

Archie was custom made for it with his angelic voice and cherubic face. And both are on full display with his new Christmas CD, “Christmas From the Heart.”

David brings us “Joy to the World,” “Angels We Have Heard On High,” “O Come All Ye Faithful,” “Silent Night,” “The First Noel,” “O Holy Night,” “I’ll Be Home for Christmas,” “What Child Is This” and “Ave Maria.” David also shows us his flair for other languages with the French “Pat-a-pan” and the Latin “Riu Riu Chiu.” Plus, David adds Filipina star Charice Pempengco to “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.”

The CD concludes with an original that David co-wrote, “Melodies of Christmas,” that was co-produced by his dad and co-manager, Jeff Archuleta.

It’s probably no surprise that the songs all sound gorgeous and have beautiful arrangements. Regardless of whether you’re an Archie fan or not, you have to admit he has a beautiful voice and Christmas carols are a great way to showcase it.

Now here comes the but…

BUT, after about the first three, you start to wish there was something else on here. Yes, the songs are beautiful, but they’re all slow. I completely understand wanting to stay in the traditional direction, and I applaud David/Jeff for wanting to stick with songs with the Christian message, but couldn’t they have thrown in a few bouncier ones? Anyone who owns a Christmas CD from a contemporary Christian artist knows it’s possible to do upbeat without losing the message.

If Simon Cowell were critiquing this album, he would probably say that this album ages David. Granted, he would say it in a much more clever way, but he’d still be right. David is young and should have done a few songs that would show that exuberance off a little more. Maybe a cover of Ray Parker Jr.’s “Christmas Time Is Here” or even the more traditional “Go Tell It On the Mountain.”

And I was more than a little disappointed that he didn’t do “The Little Drummer Boy.” I know he did the French version, but that’s not the same.

And is anyone else shocked that he didn’t tackle “Mary Did You Know?” Maybe he realized that he couldn’t possibly outdo Clay Aiken on that one. Or Donny Osmond for that matter (Yeah, that’s right. I said it.)…

The one chance David has to break away, “Melodies of Christmas,” falls flat because it comes off overly produced. It’s a clever track that should still get some play this season, but I think it could have been done a little better.

All of that having been said, “Heart” is still solid. It’s just not a CD that you’ll be playing during your more festive holiday parties this year. Save the Elliott Yamin or Kimberley Locke CDs for those…

“Christmas From the Heart” is available now…

Photo Credit: Jive Records