Aretha Franklin

This Christmas

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The obvious title here would have been Wreatha Now, but Aretha opted to follow in the footsteps of at least 20 other artists by going with This Christmas as the title of her first Christmas album. Apart from the Donny Hathaway/Nadine McKinnor-written title track, a duet with her son Edward that is both sweet and playful (at one point, Aretha interjects, "Eddie, you mustn't upstage mom with those high notes"), the disc is filled mostly with the spiritual and relatively serious side of holiday material. The likes of "Silent Night," "Ave Maria," "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing," and "Angels We Have Heard on High" are given the kind of treatment only Aretha could grant, though it should be noted that there are moments where you might feel stuck inside the Aretha Melismatorium. It's not all reverence and reflection: best of all is a reading of "'Twas the Night Before Christmas" that can only be termed "personalized."

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