Elvis Presley Christmas Duets is a rare kind of yuletide album: one that’s technically innovative. Using advanced studio methods, Sony BMG was able to seamlessly pair Elvis, now 31 years dead, with contemporary artists like Carrie Underwood, Wynonna Judd, and Amy Grant on ten of his holiday classics (imagine the gratification of hearing one’s voice accompanied by Elvis’). It’s an endearing, even if slightly hokey, collection that draws from both the secular and religious musical canons. The textured, Martina McBride-featuring “Blue Christmas” and “Here Comes Santa Claus”, which the effervescent Leann Rimes lends a glowing charm, are among the highlights. Though, the eight-minute long blues meander “Merry Christmas Baby” does put a bit of a drag on the set. Elvis, of course, with that voice so lush, nimble, and brisk, is magisterial from start to finish. Has anyone ever sounded as natural as he does belting out holiday tunes? Witness his breezy stroll through “White Christmas”. It’s no surprise, then, that his singular artistry remains the draw of this album. The audio innovations are of interest, even rewarding, but nothing could upstage the King.
// Notes from the Road
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