Various Artists

Mother & Child: A Christmas Celebration of Motherhood

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Assembled in 1995, this compilation focuses on two subjects: Christmas and motherhood. Most of the tracks are aimed at an adult contemporary audience -- specifically, soccer moms who celebrate Christmas and have spent a lot of time listening to singers like Celine Dion, Mariah Carey, Michael Bolton, and Whitney Houston (although none of them are actually on this 44-minute CD). Some of the artists are part of country-pop (including Suzy Bogguss and Martina McBride), and some are relevant to urban contemporary (including Vesta Williams, Shanice Wilson, Wendy Moten, and Christian favorite CeCe Winans). And there's even a ballad by Belinda Carlisle ("Christmas Lullaby"). But when all is said and done, Mother & Child: A Christmas Celebration of Motherhood is very much an adult contemporary release. Unfortunately, much of the material is too syrupy for its own good, especially Olivia Newton-John's "Christmas Never Felt Like This" and Carlisle's "Christmas Lullaby" (which isn't one of the ex-Go-Go's more impressive solo performances). But the CD does have its moments -- even if you don't like syrupy music. Some of the more memorable tracks range from McBride's performance of "Oh Holy Night" and Beth Nielsen Chapman's arrangement of the traditional "Ave Maria" to Amy Grant's haunting "Breath of Heaven (Mary's Song)." Those three tracks are closer to the European Yuletide tradition, and as a result, they're a cut above the album's more syrupy offerings. Of course, some listeners like their adult contemporary on the syrupy side, which is why Michael Bolton has sold millions of albums despite all the negative reviews he received from rock critics. Mother & Child is what it is: a pleasant, although generally unremarkable, compilation that was designed with suburban soccer moms in mind.

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