I don't know about you, but when I think "Olivia Newton-John," I visualize the bouncy "teenager" (she was actually 29 at the time) clad in a slinky, skin-tight black outfit and wrapped around John Travolta in "Grease" thirty years ago (yikes!). I had forgotten just how good her voice truly is, but you won't forget once you begin listening to Christmas Wish, a generous (61 minutes!) helping of richly-crafted pop pleasures for the holidays. This Aussie has a multi-dimensional voice that won't quit, and this album provides an excellent showcase.
Full, clear, aching, breathy, nuanced, and bursting with emotion, Newton-John's pipes are marvelous. She also hits the high notes with great clarity and not a hint of harshness. Her Christmas Wish is intensely interesting on several fronts. First, it employs the unusual technique of inserting very brief instrumental interludes of holiday chestnuts between almost every two vocal numbers. These interludes are the familiar ribbons that tie the whole musical package together, providing valuable musical continuity. Second, the artist includes quite a few Christmas originals, which blend seamlessly with the familiar. The overall mood is nostalgic, loving, and heartfelt. As a mom, I bonded immediately with her A Mother's Christmas Wish (written with Amy Sky), one of the prettiest pop holiday pieces I know. As Newton-John sings "I wish you love, a life to share, and when you find someone to care, I hope that time is kind to you, and that all your dreams come true--this is a mother's Christmas wish for you", I got all choked up from the beginning bars. For all the trials and tribulations, children are the greatest gift of all.
Christmas Wish has some lovely Celtic fluorishes (the use of a pennywhistle on O Come All Ye Faithful, for example), and features some very cool duets. On Every Time It Snows, another memorable Newton-John/Sky original, the artist trades lines and harmonies with Latin crooner Jon Secada (sometimes in Spanish), and the effect is very cool. Staying with the multilingual theme, Silent Night employs a lovely English/French/Spanish combo and includes guest vocalist Jann Arden. Michael McDonald provides excellent counterpoint vocals on the emotive All Through the Night, and Barry Manilow's shmaltzy A Gift of Love closes the album.
Olivia Newton-John is a timeless treasure, and her Christmas Wish will make you a believer. Lovely!
(Reviewed in 2007)
All songs produced by Amy Sky
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Label: ONJ Productions
Length: 61 minutes
- O Come All Ye Faithful
- Angels We Have Heard on High (Interlude)3.Every Time It Snows (featuring Jon Secada)
- Away in a Manger (Interlude)
- We Three Kings
- The First Noel (Interlude)
- A Mother's Christmas Wish (featuring Jim Brickman)
- Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring (Interlude)
- Angels in the Snow
- What Child Is This? (Interlude)
- Silent Night (featuring Jann Arden)
- O Come, O Come Emmanuel (Interlude)
- All Through the Night (featuring Michael McDonald)
- Little Drummer Boy (Interlude)
- Underneath the Same Sky
- O Christmas Tree (Interlude)
- Little Star of Bethlehem
- Deck the Halls (Interlude)
- Instrument of Peace (featuring Marc Jordan)
- We Wish You a Merry Christmas (Interlude)
- Christmas on My Radio
- A Gift of Love (featuring Barry Manilow)