Monday, November 09, 2009

Christmas from the Heart


Genre: Pop
Artist:David Archuleta
Traditional yet contemporary.

Christmas is tradition. The songs in the album are traditional Christmas songs and for artists and musicians, the challenge is how such songs can appeal to the general public and their fans in a way that they’d still be able to keep the essence of these songs. Most importantly, how such Christmas album can stand the test of time. Some artists have released Christmas albums with their own musical touch and yet they fail to live up to it—either they over or under do it. “Christmas from the Heart”, on the other hand, I could say, would be able to live up to that challenge. Time will tell.

I’m no music expert but I’m going to base this review on what I know and love about music.

David Archuleta’s voice soars in this album. Obviously, this is a given, however, there’s something about this album which makes THE voice more special. There’s another element in David’s musicality and artistry which was revealed in this album—he is a storyteller. Not just an ordinary storyteller but a great storyteller. We all know that he sings from his heart and that every time he sings you could just feel every emotion he brings with the songs and you feel it—you feel him.

The musical arrangement and production in this album is timeless—the strings, the choir, the movie score magic, jazz, soul, contemporary R&B, and pop elements of each song. Again, David brings fusion into his music.

Now, add that voice with music, it’ll give you brilliance. Imagine having those elements plus a great story in one music album, like an audio book with only one difference, it’s a musical audio book. It really wouldn't be a problem if it’s a movie musical or Broadway musical. No need to use our imagination. But what if it’s a musical audio book ? Would we have the same feelings? Clearly, I did. Well, first listen was enough for me. I see images running through my mind—Mr. Holland’s Opus, Aladdin, and all those movies. Again, the difference is: David Archuleta is on these movies, well, his voice is, with people in the background interpreting what he’s singing. It’s weird but true.

Into the songs we have the symphonic-Broadway-Story-musical (SBSM), contemporary-R&B-Pop-musical (CRPM), soulful-jazz-musical (SJM) and the movie-score-magic musical (MSMM). Joy to the World, Angels We Have Heard on High, O Come All Ye Faithful, What Child is This, and Silent Night have that SBSM feel to it—the strings and the bridge and the musical solo. Listen to how he sings—he speaks to you and tells you a story. You can just picture him in this one great movie scene and singing his lines through song. Listen to the music, towards the last part of Angels, the orchestra was on fire–powerful strings. It’s amazing.

Soul is something we can’t take away from David’s musical style. He’s such a soulful artist and teaming him up with another soulful artist in her own right would mean one nice duet. Charice Pempengco’s duet with David is probably one of the most talked about track in this album and now I know why. The blending is awesome. Technically, it was an amazing vocal performance from both artists. I applaud Charice for such soulful effort. In Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas there is no doubt that it was going to be one soulful duet but David added jazz into it. David is oozing with jazz in this track. It’s soulful yet jazzy. I’ll be home for Christmas, on the other hand, is the jazziest of them all. David’s smooth jazz.

O Holy Night is amazing live. The album version definitely surprised me a lot. This version made me realize what this album is all about—a timeless classic. The arrangement for this song is just AMAZING. Vocally, I would prefer the live version but the vocals along with the orchestra made it feel like those powerful movie scores. The symphony made it work so much. It is powerful. This goes with Silent Night and What Child is this as well. The intro of Riu Riu Chiu reminded me of Harry Potter in some ways. Haha. Movie magic score in the works.

The First Noel, Pat-a-Pan, Riu Riu Chiu and Melodies of Christmas are those songs which would really appeal to the general public. The modern feel of these songs would definitely appeal to David’s fans as well. The intro for Noel reminded me of The Foo Fighters’ song Next Year. Pat-a-pan has that R&B feel to it and David singing in French is just awesome. Who would have known he can sing in French? We now come to my most favorite track from this album, Riu Riu Chiu. It’s traditional yet it sounds so modern. It seems like Latino Pop. There’s something about this song. Spanish is love. ♥

If there’s a song that would best sum up this album, it would definitely be the original song which David co-wrote, Melodies of Christmas. The song tells us what he thinks of Christmas and just everything about Christmas and what it reminds him of. It’s a well-written song. If it’ll be release as a single, this song will come a long way! A classic in the making!

Of all the songs in Christmas from the Heart, Ave Maria would probably be the most overlooked song but I think this one is the best track in the album. It’s haunting. The choir is angelic. David’s voice soars. It’s a classic. Probably one of, if not, the most challenging song in the album and David definitely, definitely nailed this song. His version is truly one of the best versions of Ave Maria ever.

To sum it all up, Christmas albums may just be Christmas albums to some of us but as mentioned earlier, it’s the most challenging kind of album to make. Yes, it is traditional and yes, everyone can just sing every Christmas songs out there but as how to make it your own and still live up to the spirit of each song remains to be a challenge. Some have been successful and some eventually failed. Yet, success does not only mean that the albums were widely received during their time but also the ability of these albums to keep up with time. An album’s success is measured through its timelessness. An album isn't considered to be one of the classics when it fails to keep up with time. This album is not one of those albums. This album will stand the test of time and I guarantee you that Christmas from the Heart will be one with the classics—that is, a Christmas album classic. Soon enough, it will.

This one is on AP, you may comment here or there.

Link to my AP article. lol. CLASSIC

PS: I am not a fan of the album cover as you may notice. LOL.

I am not a fan of Charice Pempengco but unlike her and some of her fans, I can be objective. I'd say their duet is nice. She's soulful and all that but she's just not jazzy. She did a great job here though. I just hope she would learn to be humble someday. And please, just stop being so paranoid. LOL. I also hope someday you'll find your own voice. :)


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