Arriving nine months after Katharine McPhee’s 2010 bleached-blonde AAA makeover Unbroken, Christmas Is the Time to Say I Love You finds McPhee going back to her roots, returning to her brunette locks and reviving the show-stopping theatrics that made her a star on American Idol. Christmas Is the Time is an old-fashioned holiday record through and through, from the reliance on standards to the soft, roomy arrangements that allow plenty of space for McPhee to hit her high notes, all without drawing too much attention to herself. It’s a setting well suited for McPhee’s strengths, and song for song, this may be her strongest album: she does well by the standards, and the pop songs -- including “It’s Not Christmas Without You” and the title track originally sung by Billy Squier -- are good adult contemporary numbers. The album is simple and lean, not intent on making McPhee into a chart star, benefiting from a seasonal formula that allows her to simply sing like she did when she was on Idol.
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AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine