Although many people still have their Halloween decorations up, Kelly Clarkson is ringing in the Christmas season early with the release of “Wrapped in Red.”
Clarkson’s first holiday album isn’t that different from many other holiday-themed records, but her powerhouse vocals and sweet tones make “Wrapped in Red” a treat.
Clarkson combines tried and true favorites with original songs and some that aren’t often associated with the holiday season. “Silent Night” and “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” are two of the classics she spices up with guest appearances from Reba McIntyre and Trisha Yearwood on the former and orchestral strings on the latter.
The former “American Idol” shows her country roots on “Blue Christmas,” and although Ronnie Dunn of Brooks & Dunn is the male vocal, “Baby It’s Cold Outside” sounds more like a lounge song than a country duet. She moves to rock’n’roll on “Run Run Rudolph,” a risky decision that unfortunately doesn’t translate well and sounds slightly like something one would hear during karaoke night – with much better vocals, of course.
“Wrapped in Red” and “Underneath the Tree” are Clarkson originals. Both songs are quintessentially romantic, catchy and undeniably well thought out. The songs are drenched in grandeur with horns and big drums, but also feature the occasional breathy sigh from Clarkson that makes them very vulnerable and relate-able.
“Winter Dreams (Brandon’s Song),” another original, is a sweet tune about her new husband, Brandon Blackstock. She sings, “Swept completely off my feet/ This snow globe dream is telling me this Christmas it all became real/ Don’t wake me please/ From this winter dream.”
Clarkson sounds like a seasoned soul diva on “Please Come Home for Christmas (Bells Will Be Ringing).”
Her vocal control and range is so astonishing that it can be compared to that of famed soul singers Whitney Houston and Diana Ross.
The most surprising song on the album is the cover of Imogen Heap’s “Just for Now.” There is no question that both the original and Clarkson’s version are fantastic, but among a slew of tracks about mistletoe, snow and sleigh bells, it feels slightly off.
It’s hard to make an original, exciting holiday album with so many others already in existence. Clarkson, however, is able to showcase the classics while providing audiences with new tracks that have the potential to stick around for years to come.
Alexandra D’Aluisio can be reached at alexandra.daluisio@ student.shu.edu.