I've been a fan of Colbie ever since 'Bubbly' and was naturally interested in how her luscious voice would translate to the old Christmas classics. I was slightly off-put by the idea of a sandy, summery theme (since I'm a white Christmas guy myself) but as it turned out I really appreciated (for the most part) how she gave a new spin to old favorites. Here's what I thought, track by track:
01. Merry Christmas Baby (feat Brad Paisley) - 4/5 - Definitely "beachy" and laid back with a country twang. Honky Tonk restaurants will be playing this all holiday long.
02. Santa Baby - 3/5 - No Eartha Kitt, but again Colbie gives it a new summery flair and in that sense, it works.
03. Christmas in the Sand - 5/5 - this may be my favorite because it's not an old has-been cover and Colbie's voice really gets to shine. Plus it's super cute.
04. Baby It's Cold Outside - 2/5 - It takes a LOT of chemistry to make this duet work and many have failed miserably. I don't think this is a complete disaster, but the chemistry is not there and it's sung way too fast. There are much better renditions. It also doesn't make sense, given the "Beach Christmas" theme.
05. The Christmas Song - 2/5 - Everyone in the world has covered this song. Colbie's voice does sound good and the more country production gives it some originality, but I'd just call it a mediocre filler.
06. Santa Claus is Coming to Town - 4/5 - I actually like this cover. The summery instrumental combined with a slightly new vocal style makes it sound fresh and exciting.
07. Every Day is Christmas - 3/5 - Again I like that this song isn't an overdone cover, but it doesn't work nearly as well as "Christmas in the Sand" this may be partly to blame to Jason Reeves who doesn't add anything to the song and actually distracts from Colbie.
08. Silver Bells - 1/5 - An old classic, but, like "Baby It's Cold" it sounds awkward in the mix of sandy renditions. You'll want to skip this track or will at least be glad when it's over.
09. Winter Wonderland - 3/5 - No real complaints. There's better covers, but this rendition sounds good and mixes well with the rest of the album.
10. Mistletoe - 5/5 - Love this one. It brings back that country flair that makes this album unique and has a great chorus.
11. Happy Christmas - 3/5 - A filler that's a little more. This isn't one of my favorite songs, but the vocal work is nice and it does work well with the album.
12. Auld Lang Syne - Slowed down a lot for the last track. It is an awkwardly emotional and moody rendition. Perhaps more true to the original tone of the song, but comes across as a sad and depressed way to end a chipper album. It does give a chance for Colbie's voice to shine, however.
OVERALL: An above-average Christmas album for sure, but not quite a must-have.
I was hesitant about the sunny Christmas theme going into the album, partly because I love me a wintery holiday, but also because I was afraid they would butcher old classics by trying to sound different. As it turned out, when they did revamp old favorites, they did it in a stylish way that was both respectful to our cherished memories of listening to these carols while added a new beachy twist. I don't know how well the album will mix into your regular holiday playlist, but certainly tracks like "Christmas in the Sand" and "Mistletoe" belong in the mix. I'm also sure Florida, California, and all those other palm tree holiday hot spots will have this album in heavy rotation.