The holiday season is officially in full swing once again. That is obvious to anyone who has not been living under a rock. Lights are twinkling brightly in communities nationwide in downtowns and homes. The holiday movies are playing across the TV and streaming spectrum every day. The sounds of the season also fill the stores and even some radio stations. So much of the music playing on those radio stations and in stores is music that everybody knows and has heard sometimes far too much. Thankfully there are some artists out there who each year, give audiences a little something different worth hearing when it comes to holiday covers. One of those artists this year who has taken the road less traveled is singer Chris Ruggiero with his new holiday compilation, Christmas With Chris Ruggiero. Released early last month through his own company, Chris Ruggiero Music Corp., the 12-song set presents a handful of songs that while they are all too familiar to audiences, are presented in a fashion that is anything but run of the mill. There is also at least one lesser-known cover here in the form of Ruggiero’s cover of Amy Grant’s Grown-Up Christmas List.’ This cover will be discussed shortly. Ruggiero’s take of Mel Torme’s timeless holiday classic, ‘The Christmas Song’ is a unique take on that standard worth examining. It will be discussed a little later. Ruggiero’s take of ‘I’ll Be Home for Christmas’ is yet another unique cover that deserves to be heard. It will be discussed later, too. When it and the other songs noted here are considered along with the rest of the compilation’s entries, the whole makes this presentation a surprisingly interesting holiday music compilation that is worth hearing at least once.
Christmas with Chris Ruggiero, the new holiday music compilation from singer Chris Ruggiero, is an intriguing addition to this year’s crowded field of seasonal song presentations. That is because while the songs featured in this collection are largely well-known, their presentations are anything but familiar. There is also one lesser-known cover included in the record in the form of ‘Grown-Up Christmas List.’ Originally composed by Amy Grant, the song takes Grant’s 90s pop-centric song (which is easily comparable to works from the likes of Vanessa Williams and Mariah Carey) and turns it on its ear, moving it in a more soulful direction. The soul/R&B vibe that Ruggiero and fellow vocalist Darlene Love give the song gives the composition a completely different identity that interestingly, is still distinctly 90s in its approach and sound. Love’s vocals are so powerful when she takes the light, and her work alongside that of Ruggiero creates a surprisingly powerful and engaging harmony. Ruggiero meanwhile conjures thoughts of Michael McDonald through his performance. The pairing of that with Love makes the pair’s performance well worth hearing in itself. It is just one of the songs included in this record that makes the set worth hearing. Ruggiero’s take of Mel Torme’s timeless holiday classic, ‘The Christmas Song’ is another notable addition to the record.
Ruggiero’s take of ‘The Christmas Song’ is notable because he doesn’t try to perform the song a la Nat King Cole unlike so many artists out there who have tackled the song. Rather, he gives the song his own touch by himself alongside a piano. The gentile approach that he takes to the performance actually conjures thoughts more of Lionel Richie than Nat King Cole. That is especially the case when he hits the high notes here. The control that he exhibits when he hits those notes is truly impressive and soulful in its presentation. The overall approach and sound here is a welcome change of pace from all of the other covers that stick to one of two models in covering the song that is sure to impress plenty of listeners. It is just one more of the songs that show what makes Christmas with Chris Ruggiero worth hearing. His take of ‘I’ll Be Home For Christmas’ is yet another notable entry in this collection.
Ruggiero’s take of ‘I’ll Be Home For Christmas,’ which was originally composed by the team of Walter Kent, Kim Gannon and Buck Ram way back in 1943 and made most famous by singer Bing Crosby, is a stark contrast from that rendition. Where the take made famous by Crosby is a gentle, romantic string-based ballad, Ruggiero takes the song is a much more energetic direction, giving it a sound and style in his take that is a hybrid of Motown and doo wop. It keeps the song shmaltzy, but in a completely unexpected fashion. The sounds of the likes of The Temptations, The Four Tops and other similar acts are on full display here, and again in such a surprisingly welcome fashion. It is an approach that is sure to put a smile on any listener’s face and enhance any listener’s Christmas spirit. It is just one more take that shows what makes Christmas with Chris Ruggiero worth hearing. When it is considered along with the other covers examined here and with the rest of the record’s featured takes, the whole makes the collection overall a surprisingly welcome addition to this year’s field of holiday music collections.
Christmas with Chris Ruggiero, the new holiday music compilation from singer Chris Ruggiero, is an interesting presentation that deserves to be played any time during the holiday season. That is because while it does feature so many familiar songs, the performances thereof are unique in comparison to so many other compilations featuring the same songs. They take those familiar songs and take them in unique directions that are still fully accessible for listeners. The songs examined here are proof of that. When they are considered alongside the set’s other featured songs, the whole makes the compilation overall a unique and welcome addition to this year’s field of new holiday music compilations.
Christmas With Chris Ruggiero is available now. More information on the compilation is available along with all of Chris Ruggiero’s latest news at https://www.ChrisRuggieroSings.com.
To keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news, go online to https://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.