Album: Susan Boyle, The Gift (Syco)

Andy Gill
Friday 05 November 2010 01:00 GMT

On Susan Boyle's second album, the balance between hymns and popular songs that characterised I Dreamed a Dream tilts more decisively churchwards, with a preponderance of carols now peppered with just a smattering of secular material, and an overly religiose tone applied to the likes of "Perfect Day" and "Hallelujah", songs at least partly written about heroin and orgasm, respectively.

Still, at least Boyle refrains from the diva excesses often visited upon them, offering suitably restrained verses to both before soaring orchestral climaxes are ladled over the choruses. But The Gift is effectively a half-hearted Christmas album, with colourless versions of fare like "Away in a Manger" capped with an "Auld Lang Syne" that's at the opposite end of the Hogmanay party spectrum from, say, The Pogues.

DOWNLOAD THIS Perfect Day; Hallelujah

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