Susan Boyle

Home for Christmas

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Susan Boyle devoted 2013 to Christmas projects, including a starring role in the Christmas Candle film, so it's no great surprise that she delivered a seasonal record with Home for Christmas; that was the design from the beginning. Boyle had delivered a Christmas album before -- her 2010 sophomore set Gift was a holiday album -- but Home for Christmas doesn't bother with such niceties as elusive titles or songs that are barely seasonal (Gift contained covers of Lou Reed, Leonard Cohen, and Neil Finn, none of whom have written a Christmas tune). This is a straight-up Christmas album, anchored by "The Christmas Song" and "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas," the kinds of standards that are song often, sometimes reinterpreted, but, in Boyle's hands, are sung precisely how you'd expect: gentle and exact, without a note out of place. Anybody who has followed the reality show contestant from the start of her career will not be surprised, nor will they be dissatisfied: she delivers the goods without fuss or flair, and the concentration on holiday tunes does make this a stronger Christmas album than its predecessor, as there is never a moment when it strays from its cheerful, comforting, seasonal aesthetic.

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