Clay Aiken’s post-American Idol debut, “Measure of a Man” was a smash success and his second studio album, the infamous “Merry Christmas With Love” would go on to define his career. Selling over 2 million copies worldwide, “Love” is a collection of songs that revives every year.
1. O Holy Night – Starting the album off traditional, Clay shows his range while maintaining control. While other artists use this powerful Christmas song to belt at the top of their lungs, Clay decides to take a step back and let the lyrics show through. A great way to set up the tone of the rest of the album.
2. Winter Wonderland – A lighter track than the album-opener, Clay’s voice is almost theatrical as he sings about walking in a wonderland of white. Definitely a cute sing-a-long.
3. Silent Night – Tackling another powerful Christmas song, Clay takes on this German original with grace and control yet again. Another sweet Christmas song to add to the collection.
4. Medley: Hark! The Herald Angels Sing/O Come All Ye Faithful – The only medley on the album starts off simply with a piano and Clay’s voice. The song builds until it makes the rather abrupt transition into “O Come All Ye Faithful” where it starts off slow and then builds again. If you can ignore the awkward shift between songs, this is a great medley.
5. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas – A simple take on this Christmas classic. Clay’s vocals soar as he sings this beautiful classic.
6. Mary, Did You Know? – This song is hands-down the highlight of the album. Clay sings it simply and powerfully. The meaningful lyrics shine through as do Clay’s impressive voice. If you only listen to one song off this album, this is the one you want.
7. Joy to the World – The joy in this song nearly slaps you in the face. With a choir backing his vocals, Clay returns to his theatrical voice to deliver this happy hymn.
8. The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire) – Putting his own spin on Nat “King” Cole’s classic, Mr. Aiken certainly showcases his love for the holidays with this one.
9. Don’t Save It All for Christmas Day – Covering another great vocalist, Clay takes on Celine Dion’s song from her 1998 album, “These Are Special Times.” Clay’s voice reaches new highs on the album. So high you may need to turn your headphones down. It’s actually quite impressive, though.
10. Merry Christmas with Love – The title track is a sweet little song about wishing your loved ones a Merry Christmas. It tells a great story and Clay does a great job of singing it. Not exactly a standout track, but a sweet little song nonetheless.
11. Sleigh Ride – Toning down the theatrical voice, Clay sings this classic feverishly and with immense joy. Another great sing-a-long.
12. What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve? – A perfect way to end a Christmas album is to note that New Year’s is included with the politically correct “Happy Holidays” statement. A pleasant ending to a wonderful album.