Faith Hill

Joy to the World

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Faith Hill's holiday album Joy to the World is a proudly old-fashioned record -- almost too much so, really, as there is nothing surprising about it, from its collection of shopworn standards to the full-blown yet curiously stiff production. Basically, this is an album where if you read the title, you will know how the song will sound: "Joy to the World" gets a big, bombastic, orchestral arrangement appropriate for a concert recital, "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town" swings like Sinatra conducted by Billy May, "Little Drummer Boy" is prim and proper, "Holly Jolly Christmas" feels pulled from Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, "Away in a Manger" is sweet and stately. Everything is business as usual, right down to Hill's performances: big, not blustery; they're immaculate theater, sometimes verging on grandstanding but often suited for the occasion. Which might not make Joy to the World a singular holiday album in any respect -- it's too pat and perfect to be memorable -- but for anybody looking for a new old-fashioned Christmas album, this suits the bill just fine.

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