Billy Gilman

Classic Christmas

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Striking while the iron was hot and before the 12-year-old singer's voice changed, Epic Records rushed back into the marketplace with the second Billy Gilman album to be released within six months, this one a holiday collection. The title suggests that standards will make up the fare, which turns out to be true, mostly, though co-producers Don Cook and David Malloy were not able to resist the temptation to throw in a couple of little-known songs with their names in the songwriter credits. But they did resist the temptation to make Gilman sing anything specifically child-oriented, such as "Nuttin' for Christmas" or "All I Want for Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth." No, what you get here are Christmas classics like "White Christmas" (complete with introductory verse), "The Christmas Song," and "Silent Night." Gilman acquits himself well, still possessed of his pure, elastic tenor and brassy, unabashed style. He even stands toe to toe with fellow child prodigy Charlotte Church, probably because they have been assigned "Sleigh Ride" rather than something on which the classical singer might have been expected to snatch away the spotlight, such as "O Holy Night." There is little to suggest that Gilman's appeal will last beyond its pre-puberty novelty value, but this is a pleasant effort, even given the overly familiar material.

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