Picks and Pans Review: Because It's Christmas
Uncommonly well-produced, this is a blend of the old and the new that gives rise to an especially refreshing, spirited package.
There is, for instance, an effective segue from "Silent Night" to "I Guess There Ain't No Santa Claus." a tune on which Manilow wrote music for lyrics that Johnny Mercer left when he died. And on the playful "Baby, It's Cold Outside." Frank Loesser's debate on seduction is entered by Manilow and K.T. Oslin. (Calling Oslin a country singer is a matter only of everybody's-gotta-be-someplace convenience—like putting the Atlanta Falcons in the western division of the National Football Conference.)
Things get stringy at times, but when Manilow is backed just by Randy Kerber's piano, this offers all the serenity of the best holiday albums. (Arista)