Icon music review — My Gift — Carrie Underwood

Reviewed by Craig Hoffman
American country music singer Carrie Underwood is out with My Gift. This is her seventh album and first Christmas-themed effort. Underwood won the fourth season of American Idol in 2005.

Her debut single, “Inside Your Heaven,” made her the only country artist to enter at number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Underwood’s debut album, Some Hearts (2005), featured crossover hits “Jesus, Take the Wheel” and “Before He Cheats.” She won three Grammy Awards for the album, including Best New Artist. The Christmas album dropped in September.

It was only a matter of time before Underwood cashed in with such an effort. The artist is enthusiastically Christian, and it shows in her song selections. The album has eight traditional tracks and three original compositions.

My Gift brings in a slight country music feeling, but that vibe is fleeting as the album progresses. There is a traditional Christmas music feeling overall, but the artist does provide some new material for her fans.

Underwood penned “Let There Be Peace.” The gifted singer showcases her enormous vocal talents in a sweeping anthem. The song offers a message that is timely as we close out a difficult 2020 for the entire world.

“Sweet Baby Jesus” is also a new composition. It was written by Brett James. He is a long time collaborator of Underwood. This song is a mix of country and contemporary Christian music. It is classic Carrie Underwood in style. One of a couple of the better efforts on My Gift.

John Legend is featured on “Hallelujah.” He co-wrote the tune with Toby Gad. It is the best song on the album. Legend recorded with Underwood separately through emails and Zoom because of the pandemic.

“I was deep into making the album, and this one kind of came in. He sent it to us kind of at the end,” the singer remembers during a recent episode of Today’s Country Radio With Kelleigh Bannen on Apple Music Country. Even though she’d already assembled much of the tracklist, Underwood immediately knew she needed to make room for “Hallelujah.”

“The Little Drummer Boy” was slated to be a solo effort. But Underwood decided to include her son’s voice. It’s a nice moment for the artist and her boy. The son does a fine job singing with his country music icon mother. Yet My Gift overall is a mixed bag according to the critics.

Tom Cramer of The Eastern Echo gave a positive review, writing that it “will bring the listener the gift of contemplation: to contemplate what the true meaning of Christmas is, what’s really necessary to celebrate Christmas during a pandemic, and to contemplate what is going on in the world today.”

When listening to a Christmas album many people want to feel something special. That is not My Gift in general. Underwood does do a wonderful rendition of “Mary, Did You Know.” She is one of the most vocally gifted singers in the world, but this selection of holiday music is underwhelming and uninspired.

That is disappointing but not unexpected from a modern holiday album. Underwood offers moments of joy and Christmas cheer. That is especially great in these times, although it’s a clear money grab for the artist and her record label.

Chuck Campbell of Knoxville News Sentinel gave a mixed review of the album, calling it “reverential, poignant and heavily religious-calming music suitable for reflection and introspection.” However he found the duets to be “disjointed and ultimately overcooked.”

An artist of her enormous stature should have brought more to this holiday record than a mostly high school-level Christmas carol concert. Underwood offers little that is memorable here. That’s inexcusable from the uber-talented singer.

Final Take: A few tunes on My Gift are worth listening to while preparing dinner for the family. But one can skip buying it. There are many legendary artists who have better and more unique Christmas albums. Go listen to them. 3.25/5.

Craig Hoffman is a music graduate of Ohio Northern University and The University of Akron School of Music. He also serves as the Icon’s Japan correspondent.

Originally published at http://www.adaicon.com.

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Craig Hoffman

Craig is a #writer, #editor, #betareader & #blogger. 2000+ #blog posts & seven #ebooks including #shortstories “The Tempo of Tempura” and “Carl Crapper.”