A "classic Christmas"? The very phrase chills the blood, evoking images of fiddly table decorations, revolting mulled wine and "educational" toys from the Early Learning Centre: Christmas for people who feel ashamed for enjoying themselves. And if that's the case, Wynonna Judd's album is just the ticket, as your enjoyment is the last thing on her mind. A Classic Christmas reunites her with the producer Brent Maher and arranger Don Potter, who piloted Wynonna and mom Naomi's successes as The Judds; but, awash with strings, this is very different to their chipper country fare, its po-faced renditions of standards like "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas", "White Christmas" and "Walking In a Winter Wonderland" skewering what reserves of goodwill those songs retain. Rarely can a singer have conveyed as little anticipatory excitement as she does here. Almost every phrase sounds bogus - and that's before we get to the children's chorus to "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town". The CD's title may refer to her "Ave Maria", a classic case of hubristic overreach.
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