This holiday release from acclaimed vocalist Mandy Barnett features such timeless ballads as "White Christmas," "I'll Be Home For Christmas," and "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas," along with spirited standards like "Jingle Bell Rock," "A Holly Jolly Christmas," "Marshmallow World," and the project's title track. Inspired by the enduring Christmas albums of a bygone era (imagine Perry Como, Brenda Lee, Burl Ives, and Connie Francis), "Winter Wonderland" features lush strings, a background vocalist group, and legendary musicians, some of whom played on the original versions of the classic songs on this collection. It's a modern take on a nostalgic period -- celebrating the past without dwelling on it, as the crisp production and Mandy's soaring, sparkling vocals embrace the warmth and joy of the season and bring "Winter Wonderland" right up to date.
One especial joy in this album is Mandy's rendition of "All I Want for Christmas Is You." Not the vapid Mariah Carey song, but the original, earlier song of the same title originally performed by Vince Vance and The Valiants. Mandy also shines in her wistful, touching performance of "This Time of the Year" (originally made a Christmas classic by Brenda Lee). If you're like me and love Christmas music especially, you'll totally adore this album. Other songs included are "White Christmas," "A Holly, Jolly Christmas," "Jingle Bell Rock," "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" and more. It's rare that an artist can take a song, so well known as a signature-type song of another singer, and make it their own--but Mandy does this time and again with each of these. I remember a statement, years ago, that Richard Carpenter made about his sister, Karen's voice--that it was so amazing and clear it was akin to hearing "bells ringing." That thought has stayed with me whenever I hear Mandy Barnett sing.
If you love fabulous vocals (and who doesn't?) and delight especially in Christmas and holiday music, you really owe it to yourself to add this album/CD to your collection if you've not already. Check out the samples on the playlist--you'll be back for a full taste of a glorious, joyous cavalcade of the popular Christmas songs you knew and loved. This is a delightful holiday treat you will savor.