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Christmas album review: Jewel's 'Let It Snow: A Holiday Collection'

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Jewel's 'Let It Snow: A Holiday Collection'

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ARTIST: Jewel
TITLE: “Let It Snow: A Holiday Collection”
LABEL: Reflections Records
STYLE: Folky, Americana Christmas

NOTABLE: This is Jewel second Christmas album, following 1999's “Joy: A Holiday Collection.” Jewel’s warm, airy voice is well-suited for holiday music. The 12-song collection includes two originals – “It’s Christmastime” and “Blue Crystal Glow.” The former sounds like a newly unearthed 19th-century British carol, while the latter is the aural equivalent of experiencing a snow-covered Alpine forest on a crisp, clear day.

Vince Gill drops in to play guitar, but not sing, on a rockin’ country version of “White Christmas.” A French chorus shows up in the middle of “I'll Be Home for Christmas.” The album skews toward ballads rather than up-tempo material.

Target and Bed Bath & Beyond are selling limited edition versions of the album, each with different bonus tracks. You can also order an autographed copy directly from Jewel's website (jeweljk.com)

HIGH POINTS: The two new original songs are unique and interesting, and grow on you with each listen. Jewel sounds like she's having fun on the up-tempo numbers. The best are the aforementioned “White Christmas” and the title track. Jewel delivers a lovely reading of “Panis Angelicus.” She reinterprets “Silver Bells” as a country slow dance.

LOW POINT: Enough with the multiple versions already! Independent artists may need to make deals with large chain stores to remain profitable, but fans who want all of the available tracks should not have to buy at least two copies from two different stores.

Jewel herself responded to this criticism on her website with this statement: “I know some of you perhaps felt a little baffled because you cannot have all the songs without purchasing all three CDs. I can tell you that was never my intention in making the three different versions! In fact, all of the songs are available for purchase on iTunes now! (‘Deck the Halls’ will be available after 12/26 because of an exclusivity with Target – but it will be there!). My decision to make different versions was an extension of my efforts to reinvent how I can make independent records and still be effective in promoting and making physical copies available to fans.”

In any version, “Let It Snow: A Holiday Collection” would have benefited from a few more up-beat songs.

GRADE: B-

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