Various Artists

Christmas Chill [Koch]

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Christmas Chill features 14 contemporary instrumental versions of holiday favorites by artists including David Lanz, David Arkenstone, Dave Koz, and Jay Atwood. While more organic performances like George Shearing's witty, brief rendition of "Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow" and Vince Guaraldi's "Christmas Time Is Here" -- perhaps the saddest and most beautiful of holiday songs -- have a festive warmth, the more electronic-based songs come closer to living up to the album's title. Mehdi's "Joy to the World" bounds along on sprightly drum programming and synths, while Arkenstone's version of "Do You Hear What I Hear?" brings a frosty beauty to the song. The collection delves into nuevo flamenco with Lara & Reyes' "What Child Is This" and Ottmar Leibert's "Deck the Halls"; Jay Atwood's "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" and Tingstad & Rumbel's "We Three Kings" are moody contemporary instrumental pieces. By spanning so many styles, Christmas Chill attempts to be diverse, but it ends up sounding scattered more often than it should. It's certainly not a bad collection, and fans of any of the artists on it will probably enjoy the rest of the album, but it likely would have been better with a more focused approach.

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