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James House

On This Christmas Night – 2008 (Friday)

Reviewed by Dan MacIntosh

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CDs by James House

A lot of us have been waiting years for Bruce Springsteen to release a full Christmas album. And from the first vocal notes of this CD's opener, Christmas Around the World, it feels like our prayers have finally been answered. A slight letdown quickly sets in, however, when one realizes it is James House, and not The Boss singing these songs. Ah, but he's a dead ringer for Bruce! While this may not be Christmas from the Jersey shore, it's nevertheless a better than average release.

There are only a limited number of tried-and-true Christmas carols, including The Little Drummer Boy, The First Noel, Winter Noel, Winter Wonderland and White Christmas. Thus, more than half of these songs won't make any Christmas caroler's top 10 list. Most of it is serious, but "Santa Goes to Mexico," which suggests Santa enjoys a little fun in the sun before his long trip back to The North Pole, is a lighthearted delight. It even features guest vocals from Mr. "Feliz Navidad" himself, Jose Feliciano. The blues-y, rockabilly feel given Winter Wonderland is also a welcome touch. All in all, House offers one of the better Christmas recordings born in the U.S.A. this year.