Sandi Patty

O Holy Night

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A record fraught with difficulty. Originally set for release September 26, 1995, O Holy Night was delayed in the wake of the revelations about Sandi Patty's personal life. (Note, by the way, that she has reverted to the original spelling of her last name with this album.) A year later, Patty includes a note to her fans telling them that the previous year she "happened to be alone on Christmas Eve," and took the occasion to "[invite] Christ to be born again in me, new and fresh." She also includes information about "a recent decision" to use a particular weight-loss company, endorsing it and helpfully enclosing a discount coupon. Whatever else one may make of this strange combination of self-pity and opportunism, it seems to indicate Patty's desire to remake herself, which is appropriate in a field devoted to forgiveness and second chances. If her fans choose to follow her, they will find an accomplished Christmas album. The traditional numbers are heavily orchestrated and tend to be bombastic, though Patty more than holds her own. But she really sounds at home in the material from the 1930s, '40s, and '50s, such as medleys of "(There's No Place Like) Home for the Holidays" and "I'll Be Home for Christmas" and of "White Christmas," and "Winter Wonderland," in which her voice takes on the warmth and creaminess of big-band singers like Jo Stafford and Doris Day. With such pipes, it's hard to believe she could have been left alone on Christmas Eve, just on aesthetic grounds.

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