Article: “Charming in big shoes”. Review of Christmas album. Dec.13th 2012

Published on www.oa.no 13.12. 2012. Link to the original article here

Written by Frode Hermanrud

Found by Tessa Lande. Translation by Venche Mellemstrand. English revision by Katie Anderson

Charming in big shoes

Alexander Rybak: “Christmas tales”

Dice 4 ( of 6 )

It is not rare, that the sound of Christmas is the sound of cash registers and clinking coins, performed by artists who see their chance to supplement their income by doing some quick Christmas concerts and/or releasing a Christmas album. Christmas albums can be both pleasant, annoying, and cozy, but rarely particularly important.

Alexander Rybak is sailing on a wave of success, talent, and a youthful belief in his own excellence, so it is not strange that he should also record a Christmas album! On “Christmas Tales” Rybak resorted to the oldest trick in the book for a Christmas album, which is to surf on the crooner-wave.

It works only in part. Primarily, Rybak doesn’t have the artistic weight that is needed to make “Bing Crosby versions” of classics like “The Christmas Song”,”Let It Snow” and “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”. Secondly, the voice is limited; and third, to sum up, the credibility gets “so-so”, although it is genuine enough.

On the other hand, Alexander Rybak gets full credit for the swaggering charm he is a master of radiating on records and on stage. He arranged the songs himself, and the way he sneaks in the fiddle,  is nothing less than brilliant and makes the album very signature heavy. Fortunately, he has also merged in 2 of his own songs. “Tell me When” is pleasant and a little naive on the surface, whereas “Presents” is a funny duet with Didrik Solli-Tangen, in which both appear as duelists with the same woman as a present.  The always playful and sauntering “Baby It’s Cold Outside” with Annsofi as a duet partner, is another funny number that allows the dice to land on nice eyes.

If Alexander Rybak had been a steadier and “heavier” singer, “Christmas Tales” would certainly have been a Christmas album it could be worthwhile to pull out next Christmas too. Because, there is nothing to say against the arrangements and the choice of songs, but why turn to Rybak when Sinatra has done the same job since … the war?

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