Gospel has scores of queens, leading ladies, and prophetesses, but class acts are hard to come by. Yolanda Adams is one of those rare gems, and What a Wonderful Time continues to prove it. The Christmas collection is her first album for Columbia Records, but she doesn't let the new guard change the way she does things. She continues to favor elegant urban soul with just the right amount of adult contemporary, so much so that one really has to pay attention to realize that this is, after all, a seasonal disc. Only three songs are traditional here, while the rest are all originals fashioned with Adams in mind -- they're soulful, inspirational, and uplifting. This may be an issue for those who prefer their yuletide hits to sound like the holidays, which What a Wonderful Time definitely doesn't. That's because Adams is more an encourager than an entertainer, which explains the hopeful, motivational nature of cuts like "With God," "Hold On," and "Just Because," all of which would've fit gingerly on her own Mountain High...Valley Low or Day by Day albums. That's not to say she doesn't reflect the spirit or even the triviality of the holidays; the sumptuous, big-band title track finds her half-singing, half-scatting what Christmas means to her -- from Jesus all the way down to baked goods. That's exactly what's endeared Adams to so many people: to her, gospel isn't just about deep, life-changing religious experiences, but also about a lifestyle -- the way one lives the music long after the high of the Sunday service is gone. This makes What a Wonderful Time an enjoyable treat, not to mention one of the most unseasonable seasonal albums to come out of contemporary gospel music.
AllMusic Review by Andree Farias