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Music Review: Paul Anka – Songs Of December

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Paul Anka’s career is fast approaching the six-decade mark. As one of the pre-British Invasion teen idols, he placed dozens of singles on the Billboard Pop Singles Chart, while his albums sold millions of copies. Hits such as “Diana” (#1), “Put Your Head On My Shoulder,” (#2), and “Lonely Boy” (#1) made him one of the superstars of the late 1950s and early ’60s.

His hits dried up during the Beatles era but he made a comeback in the mid-’70s with his number one hit “(You’re) Having My Baby,” plus such top ten songs as “One Man Woman/One Woman Man,” “I Don’t Like To Stand Alone,” and “Times Of Your Life.” He was also an accomplished songwriter and composed most of his own material, plus such songs as Tom Jones’ “She’s A Lady,” Frank Sinatra’s “My Way,” and the “Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson Theme.” He has continued to record and tour extensively down to the present day.

Anka has now just released a new Christmas album, Songs Of December, which is comprised of traditional and familiar holiday songs. His voice is a little lower and probably not as strong and powerful as during the height of his career, but he has the knowledge and maturity to adapt his style and sound to suit his new situation. And adjust he does as he has issued one of the more pleasurable holiday albums of the last several years.

He uses a traditional approach with strings, some brass, and orchestra supporting his voice. They are never intrusive, however, as he keeps the focus on the melody and his interpretation of the lyrics.

It is a calm and understated approach to the music, in the tradition of Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and Tony Bennett. He slows the tempo of songs like “Let It Snow,” “Winter Wonderland,” and “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town,” which transform them into new and ultimately a mellow and pleasant listening experiences. Among other better performances include a Latin style “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” and an emotional “Blue Christmas;” plus he even manages to croon an interesting take of “Christmas Song.”

A relaxing album of holiday staples, Songs Of December should provide holiday delights for seasons to come.

 

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