Could be a little less “Mary” and a little more Christmas
[Originally posted to Amazon.com, December 13, 2006]
Just one year after their third studio album, the Campbell sisters, Tina and Erica, better known as Mary Mary, are back with a collection of Christmas classics and contemporary holiday songs. Mary Mary’s signature powerhouse voices go full throttle for this holiday outing; but sometimes, less is more.
If you are the kind of person who likes classic Christmas songs sung the traditional way, you may be disappointed as Mary Mary take liberties with “Merry Little Christmas” (I’m surprised it’s not spelled “Mary”), “O Come All Ye Faithful,” “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing,” and “Carol of the Bells.” Let me break it down. “Merry Little Christmas,” a melancholy but lovely standard, starts out soft and pleasant but is greatly oversung at the end. This song does not need to be sung in full voice, even if Tina and Erica are more than capable. The arrangement of “O Come All Ye Faithful” takes a departure into African tribal territory reminiscent of The Lion King, while “Hark!” experiments with some unusual melodies. “Carol of the Bells,” loved for its succinct phrasing and exquisite harmony sounds quite underwhelming set to a laid back groove. If Mary Mary could have over song anything, “Carol” should have been the one.
However, the ladies do provide us with some original gems to cherish. Emotive “Still the Lamb” is the most worshipful cut including narration and a full choir. “The Real Thing” rings with contemporary sensibilities that speak to a generation far removed from the true meaning of Christmas (“He’s more than a holiday”). Also the remix of “California Christmas” bounces and skips along while extolling the virtues of Christmas on the West Coast (“It’s a beautiful day and the sun is shining/ The family’s all here and the baby’s smiling”).
Though there are several head-scratching moments, some Mary Mary fans may enjoy this new addition to the duo’s catalogue.