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Christmas Means Love

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Album Review

Issued originally in 2005, Christmas Means Love was a Barnes & Noble exclusive. After signing her, Time Life decided to widely reissue this 11-song Christmas album by Joan Osborne. Is it necessary? Not really, but no one really needs any Christmas record. Osborne's voice being what it is, she could sing the back of a cereal box and make it interesting. The program here is diverse, centered on rhythm and blues, with gospel tunes, carols, and blues rounding it out. Osborne contributed one song to the mix, her own blues "What Do Bad Girls Get," which is a new take on an old theme. As for the traditional carols, there are five, including a country version of "Away in a Manger," a beautiful gospel rendering — inspired no doubt by Mavis Staples' reading of the song — of "Silent Night," a folksy version of "Angels We Have Heard On High" with so much reverb, her voice is indistinguishable from Emmylou Harris'. Bummer. Far more successful is the radical revisioning of "Children Go Where I Send Thee" full of blues and funky gospel. Better still is her version of Robbie Robertson's "Christmas Must Be Tonight" with its world-weary ethos imbued with just a glimmer of hope, and the breezy "Christmas in New Orleans," written by Joe Van Winkle and Dick Sherman. On "Great Day in December" Osborne wears the deep influence of Etta James on her sleeve, and the Andrews Sisters-sing-the-jump-blues version of "Santa Claus Blues" is solid, if a novelty tune. It's a mixed bag, to be sure, but still unlikely to be like "all the other" Christmas records on your shelf.


Born: July 08, 1962 in Anchorage, KY

Genre: Pop

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Singer Joan Osborne was born on July 8, 1962, in the town of Anchorage, Kentucky, but it wasn't until relocating to New York City in the early '90s (to study at NYU's film school) that she began to take a singing career seriously after performing Billie Holiday's classic "God Bless the Child" at a local bar's open-mike night. In addition to Holiday, Osborne looked to such legendary vocalists as Etta James and Ray Charles as role models, as the up-and-coming singer decided not to cater to major record...
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Christmas Means Love, Joan Osborne
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