Idol runner-up delivers decent set of serene holiday arrangements – even if traces outlines from Groban’s Noel
If there was one American Idol graduate that best fits the feel-good hustle of holiday music, it would probably be – without question – 7th Season runner-up David Archuleta. With his shiny radio-ready executions and breathy deliveries attached to Muzak-ready, Disney-seasoned production, Christmas From the Heart feels like the Ying to Josh Groban’s yang (Noel). Part of the reason behind the album’s accessability is knowing Archuleta – who proved to be comfortable with slow build-up ballads on AI – finds refuge in familiar hymns and carols. His approach on songs like “The First Noel” and “O Holy Night” are sweet and subtle to the core; gushing with ambient strings and orchestral magic. Halfway into the disc, listeners easily discover the mood never changes. It’s not the worst case scenario for a holiday album like this, but Archuleta somehow disappoints in giving his new pop audience something contemporary to feast on. Except for the Latin rendition of “Ave Maria,” a playful “Pat-a-Pan,” the Spanish-executed “Riu Riu Chiu” and the album’s sole original “Melodies of Christmas,” the album is an angelic cantata that could easily gel into a contemporary Mass service. While some will gripe over Archuelta’s safe beckoning towards the traditional, it doesn’t sound ridiculously old on the young chap. It just would’ve made a little more sense to tweak it a little more for his relatively young fan base.
J MATTHEW COBB
- Release Date: 13 October 2009
- Label: Jive
- Producers: Kurt Bestor, Sam Cardon, Jeff Archuleta, Emanuel Kiriakou, John Lee Hancock, Richard Parkinson
- Track Favs: O Holy Night, The First Noel, Pat-a-Pan