Little introduction is needed for the singer Susan Boyle. Brought to a world stage via Britain’s Got Talent, this lady from Scotland (with Irish heritage) has gone on to record six albums. Susan Boyle: Home for Christmas is her fifth. If you have not yet heard it, you have exactly one more official day before Epiphany.
As you savor that last cup of Christmas tea (or port), you can experience her talents in the following selections:
The Lord’s Prayer
I’ll Be Home for Christmas
The Christmas Waltz
I wish I could recommend the entire album, but not all was well. I was disappointed by the musical “tricks” – such as a “duet” with Elvis (!) the producers felt compelled to include. In more than one tune, the choir could have been given a holiday. The orchestration, more syrup than substance, should have been pared down. A rare jewel, Susan Boyle, is often crowded out by over-production.
A wish list for the next album: just let Susan sing.
I’ll Be Home for Christmas was one hit where the background crooners did get it right. Reminiscent of Lawrence Welk, the schmaltzy accompaniment set an appropriately retro mood. Susan belts it out, and she almost gets you in tears.
In The Lord’s Prayer, Miss Boyle is brought a bit higher than her range, but the overall delivery is beautiful. In the space of a family parlor, the orchestration seemed a bit much, but it is easy to imagine a powerful live performance.
The sweetest surprise is a tune commissioned by Frank Sinatra in 1957, written by Sammy Cahn and Jule Styne. In this rare and catchy tune, The Christmas Waltz, Susan Boyle is right in her element. Her producers approached the song with the perfect restraint. A quietly strumming guitar and piano accompany Miss Boyle. No big choir. Judy Garland comes to mind when you hear Susan sing.
In my own home, The Christmas Waltz was the favorite song of the season:
It’s that time of year,
When the world falls in love,
Every song you hear seems to say,
May your New Year’s dreams come true.
And this song of mine,
In three quarter time,
Wishes you and yours the same thing too.