Thursday, 18 November 2010

Music Review: Susan Boyle - The Gift

Susan-Boyle-The-Gift

Artist: Susan Boyle
Album: The Gift
Label: Syco/Columbia 
Release date: 8 November 2010
Genre: Christmas 
Rating:  4.5/5

 

Susan Boyle is the talent show sensation that took the world by storm when she appeared on Britain's Got Talent in April 2009.  She was presented as yet another desperate but clueless hopeful, one of the unfortunate that are relentlessly ridiculed by both judges and the audience and the effect was completed by the use of slapstick music as she entered the stage.  There was much laughter and eye-rolling as Susan stated that she was trying to be a professional singer, one as successful as Elaine Page.  Susan Boyle had the last laugh.

Susan BoyleWithin a couple of weeks, videos of Susan Boyle’s audition had reached over 100 million views and although she did not win Britain’s Got Talent, she went on to release her debut album I Dreamed a Dream in 2009 to record breaking sales.

Susan Boyle returns in 2010 with her Christmas album The Gift.  The album opens up with a (dare I say) perfect rendition of Lou Reed’s “Perfect Day” followed by a searching and low-key version of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah”.  The next track isthe first Christmas song on the album “Do You Hear What I Hear?”  This song features Amber Stassi, the winner of the Susan’s Search competition which was a global search to find a guest to duet with Susan on her new album.  Susan wanted to impart some of the fortune she has found since appearing on Britain's Got Talent and chose the paramedic and mother from America as her winner.  It is not hard to hear why Amber won as she has a lovely, rich voice which really complements Susan’s voice.

Susan Boyle Many of the remaining songs on the album are traditional Christmas songs and include versions of “The First Noel”, “”Away In A Manger” and “O Come All Ye Faithful” but Susan’s version of the Crowded House classic “Don’t Dream It’s Over” is a stand out track.  With a mixture of lesser known Christmas carols, a couple of popular songs and some Christmas favourites, The Gift is not a typical Christmas album.  For me, it relieved the rush of anxiety that one feels in the run up to Christmas as we scramble around to find gifts for our family and plan the perfect Christmas dinner.  This album reminds me of long evenings spent relaxing before a fire, cocoa or brandy in hand, reflecting on the year that has passed and the joy up ahead.  It is an understated album but most certainly one that has become one of my favourite Christmas albums to date.  My only complaint is that I am unlikely to listen to it for the rest of the year and so I give it four-and-a-half stars out of five.

Article first published as Music Review: Susan Boyle - The Gift on Blogcritics.

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8 comments

  1. Ive never been a fan of Su-Bo. It's shame she filled it with re-makes and christmas songs.

    I get tired of hearing the same christmas songs year after year and the same xmas albums being released. Do you?

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  2. @ Tina: Yeah, I think it's a brilliant album which is why I gave it 4.5 stars! For me, it is filled with enough non-Christmas songs and less popular Christmas songs plus she sings it really well so I enjoyed it.

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  3. Thanks for this beautiful and thoughtful review of 'The Gift'. It is indeed balm for souls needing an escape from the craziness of our commercialized Christmas season.

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  4. Beautiful, nuanced, haunting album. Susan Boyle's soaring voice can blow your socks off with its power. Here she restrains it to, instead, explore the essential meanings of the songs she interprets. The result is an exquisite record that will become a Christmas standard.

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  5. What can I say? She made me like Christmas music again. And I can't stop singing Hallelujah. Her album is awesome. Washes the cynicism right out of you.

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  6. @ CBill: Thank you for your comment! "Balm for the soul" I like that!

    @ Max Wilson: She does restrain it, you are right! It might be good to hear her belt it out again on her next album.

    @ Cathy: Oh, that is lovely! Yes, she certainly made me like Christmas music again too.

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  7. I was so excited to get this album and so very let down upon listening to it. Who ever arranged this needs to get out of the music business and fast. How can you take a powerful beautiful piece of music like Hallelujah and make it sound like a funeral dirge? The songs all sound in the words of my husband "lounge lizard". Shame on the person who did this to Susan Boyle.

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  8. Apart from a touching rendition of 'Make me a channel of your peace,' I must say I was disappointed by SuBo's latest album; the songs are all rather faint-sounding covers that only just last for over half an hour altogether. She could have sung with far more gusto, as shown in her first album, which is frankly on a different scale. Not worth the money. I know she can do better!

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