“Happy Christmas…” is Jessica Simpson’s second collection of Christmas classics. It’s been out for nearly two years, but finally this year I was able to buy it and now review it.
While Jessica used her enormous voice and over-the-top excitement for the holiday season to here advantage on her first album, this time around she was more laid-back. One of the most energetic songs on the album, lead single “My Only Wish,” felt more relaxed than the jazzy anthem that was “What Christmas Means To Me” from her first holiday album.
The next song was a medley of “Here Comes Santa Claus/Santa Claus Is Coming To Town,” which seems like a perfect fit, but it was fairly clear where the song went from “Here Comes Santa Claus” to “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town.” Although one of the most upbeat songs on the album. It was great to hear a more natural and less-produced sound on most of these songs, especially on the upbeat ones.
“O Come O Come Emmanuel” is one of my all-time favorite Christmas songs, so I was really excited to hear Jessica’s version of it. While she clearly has the emotion down, near the bridge it seemed a bit whiny as she repeated the chorus (“Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel…”). However I digress. The song was still beautifully done and definitely worth a re-listen.
The next song was “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” which Jessica did with a veteran. She has always been very eager to go overseas to see the troops in Iraq or wherever they may be stationed and this time around she asked one of them to sing a suet with her on her album, and the product is incredible. For part of the song, Jessica takes a step back and let’s her duet partner, John Britt, have his shining moment before she takes us away with her gorgeous voice. Definitely a must-listen.
Next up was “Happy Xmas (War Is Over).” While I know this is a Christmas classic, I’m not a fan of the original, so I wasn’t too excited to hear Jessica’s version. I think she certainly did it justice because I like this song better than the original, but maybe it’s just her style of voice is better suited for a Christmas song than the original. It was like Jessica was born to sing Christmas songs.
“Mary Did You Know” is one of the the best off the album. Her voice is like butter, she hits the high notes at just the right times, and while it’s certainly not effortless, she definitely has the chops for it. The song is incredible itself, but Jessica’s version reminds me of Clay Aiken’s version. So if you liked his holiday album, maybe you should look into this song. I don’t know what else to say, the song is amazing, simply one of Jessica’s best.
The following song is a duet with Willie Nelson, and while he’s also a country legend, I am absolutely not a fan of his music or his voice. All-in-all, I could’ve done without the song on the album. But, Willie Nelson and Jessica are good friends, and Jessica likes Willie, so it’s really no surprise the duet ended up here.
“Kiss Me For Christmas” doesn’t show off Jessica’s stronger writing styles. I felt like most of the song was the chorus, which was basically the title. She sang it over and over again, which I get that happens with a chorus, but I think it was overdone. A sweet song regardless, though.
“Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” and “Carol of the Bells” are technically the final two songs on the album, however if you bought the physical version (like I did!) then you got two more songs. I’ll talk about them more later, but putting “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” and “Carol of the Bells” at the end of the album is kind of a shame because these songs, along with “Mary Did You Know,” are her best songs on the album (“Silent Night” as the physical edition bonus track was a really good one too). It’s a shame these songs are buried at the end of the album, especially after the not-so-great songs that prelude to it.
“Jingle Bell Rock” is a carefree song for Jessica. It’s fun, and simple, and Jessica is so breezy on it. However when it comes to “Silent Night,” Jessica gets serious again. She portrays the emotion and spirit the song has perfectly, and it’s a great way to take out the album.
I liked how on this album Jessica went for a more classic approach. Instead of a jazzy/Vegas-themed/energetic repeat of her first Christmas album, she went for soulful and timeless, and I definitely think she accomplished that. I definitely think this album is worth a buy, however with the digital age, maybe you only want to download a few. In that case I very highly suggest: “O Come O Come Emmanuel,” “Mary Did You Know,” “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” and “Carol of the Bells.”