Roberta Flack

Christmas Songs

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With her smooth, sophisticated, and always classy singing style, it's a wonder that Roberta Flack hadn't already brought her talents to a holiday album before The Christmas Album was released by Angel/EMI in 1997. Rich, warm, lovingly arranged, and at times lush with orchestras and choirs, it was a deeply personal album for Flack, who grew up singing these songs during the holidays, a time of the year when community singing just seemed richer and greater. Although lovingly done, The Christmas Album was what it was, a seasonal release with a small commercial window. Now in 2012, Flack has revisited her holiday album, gone back to the original master tapes, and remixed it from scratch, adding in little touches of the 21st century (the final mixes were done by Chris Parks), and her holiday project re-emerged as Christmas Songs, even brighter and fresher-sounding the second time around. Highlights include the haunting "25th of Last December," a powerful version of "Oh Come All Ye Faithful" (complete with lush strings and a huge choir), and the lovely, poised take of "Cherry Tree Carol," the bonus track here (it was intended for the original 1997 album but was left off for reasons no one can recall). There wasn't anything particularly amiss about The Christmas Album when it originally appeared in 1997, but in its 2012 incarnation as Christmas Songs, it has taken on a new coat of remix paint, and it deepens and shines even brighter for it.

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