12.01.2017

Fantasia Sleighs (Get It?) With New Christmas Album

Fantasia Sleighs (Get It?) With New Christmas Album

by Michael P Coleman

I don’t want to be a Grinch about it, but I get nervous when my favorite artists release Christmas records.

Many singers forego timeworn holiday favorites in favor of original material, and often wind up producing mediocre, forgettable projects.  Very few people deliver a song like Mariah Carey’s 1994 “All I Want For Christmas Is You” that stands the test of time. 

On the other hand, recording Christmas standards is risky, as those songs have been covered and sung for decades and are often associated with legends.  Artists are challenged to put their own stamp on them without sounding dated. 

Congrats to Fantasia for showing us how it’s done. 

The singer’s gorgeous new Christmas After Midnight is the album you’ll want to play after the kids have stopped pining away for a Christmas hippopotamus.  She dedicated the album to her grandmother, whose birthday was on Christmas Day.

“She’s gone home now,” says Fantasia of her grandmother, “but she played a very big part in my life and career. She loved people so much and gave more than she received—which is what my favorite holiday is all about.”

Christmas After Midnight offers a seamless blend of the spiritual, secular, and sprightly,  with her reverential “Silent Night” and Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” coming across almost as prayers.

Fantasia’s simmering, subdued “Give Love On Christmas Day” (originally recorded by The Jackson Five) is a very pleasant surprise.  Her plaintive “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” restores both the original lyric and the pathos, rivaling Judy Garland’s classic.  And she reminds us that she knows how to party during the holidays, delivering a joyful version of Donny Hathaway’s “This Christmas” and, with CeeLo Green, a playful “Baby, It’s Cold Outside.” 

Through it all, Christmas After Midnight is a smoky, mature album on which Fantastia displays vocal restraint, a side of her we don’t always get to hear.  The record also features a side of Fantasia we don’t always get to see — on the cover!  With just a glance, you’ll realize that this album is for grown folks! 

‘Tasia!  Damn!  Put some clothes on! 

"My husband loved the cover,” Fantasia laughed.  “But I also sent the photo to my mother-in-law, my best friend along with my mother. My mother-in-law said she loved it. Still I asked, are you sure?  She said stop thinking like that. it’s classy and beautiful."

Fantasia’s classy, beautiful Christmas After Midnight deserves a spot in your holiday music collection.  Dim the lights, pour some wine, and let the (reindeer) games begin. 

Fantasia’s Christmas After Midnight is available at retail and digitally.

 

Connect with Sacramento-based freelancer Michael P Coleman at michaelpcoleman.com or on Twitter:  @ColemanMichaelP.