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Music Review: Susan Boyle – The Gift

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Susan Boyle is the talent show sensation who took the world by storm when she appeared on Britain’s Got Talent in April 2009.  She was presented as yet another desperate but clueless hopeful, one of the unfortunate that are relentlessly ridiculed by both judges and the audience and the effect was completed by the use of slapstick music as she entered the stage.  There was much laughter and eye-rolling as Susan stated that she was trying to be a professional singer, one as successful as Elaine Page.  Susan Boyle had the last laugh.

Within a couple of weeks, videos of Susan Boyle’s audition had reached over 100 million views and although she did not win Britain’s Got Talent, she went on to release her debut album I Dreamed a Dream in 2009 to record breaking sales.

Susan Boyle returns in 2010 with her Christmas album The Gift.  The album opens up with a (dare I say) perfect rendition of Lou Reed’s “Perfect Day” followed by a searching and low-key version of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah”.  The next track isthe first Christmas song on the album “Do You Hear What I Hear?”  This song features Amber Stassi, the winner of the Susan’s Search competition which was a global search to find a guest to duet with Susan on her new album.  Susan wanted to impart some of the fortune she has found since appearing on Britain’s Got Talent and chose the paramedic and mother from America as her winner.  It is not hard to hear why Amber won as she has a lovely, rich voice which really complements Susan’s voice.

Many of the remaining songs on the album are traditional Christmas songs and include versions of “The First Noel”, “”Away In A Manger” and “O Come All Ye Faithful” but Susan’s version of the Crowded House classic “Don’t Dream It’s Over” is a stand out track.  With a mixture of lesser known Christmas carols, a couple of popular songs and some Christmas favourites, The Gift is not a typical Christmas album.  For me, it relieved the rush of anxiety that one feels in the run up to Christmas as we scramble around to find gifts for our family and plan the perfect Christmas dinner.  This album reminds me of long evenings spent relaxing before a fire, cocoa or brandy in hand, reflecting on the year that has passed and the joy up ahead.  It is an understated album but most certainly one that has become one of my favourite Christmas albums to date.  My only complaint is that I am unlikely to listen to it for the rest of the year and so I give it four-and-a-half stars out of five.

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About Mandy Southgate

Mandy Southgate is a blogger, serial expat and eternal tourist living and working in London. Aside from writing at Blogcritics, she blogs about travel and London at Emm in London, entertainment and media at Addicted to Media and war crimes, genocide and social justice over at A Passion to Understand. Mandy has continued to write for Blogcritics under the new profile Mandy Southgate.
  • CzechLady

    I am so happy for Susan Boyle having her second #1 album in the USA!!! “The Gift” is a beautiful album, one that I have been listening to over and over since I got it. This courageous lady is an enormous talent, yet chooses not to live the “ritzy” lifestyle of so many of our performers today. She is totally “down-to-earth”, humble, funny, and has a true gift. Love her to pieces!

  • KathyM

    I think her new CD is just beautiful. Her voice is really something special.
    I’ll enjoy listening to this for many years to come.

  • Emm

    Hi CzechLady and Kathy M. Thank you for your comments! I absolutely agree with you both. She is a great lady and I wish her all of the best. This is a great holiday CD.

  • Erin

    Really well-done review. I, too, think “Perfect Day” is perfect even though I have seen much slamming of it on forums. Her voice is rather sad though. Maybe that is what resonates with some of us.

  • Dorothy Williams

    You nay sayers are jealous, trying to make copy or love putting people down. Maybe,you’re trying too hard to be a journalist; maybe you should try a new profession, because your syntax is poor, and as for Susan, she soars,just ask her massive fan base. Now shut up!

  • Umm, Dorothy, having read both the article and comments, exactly which naysayers are you referring to?

    Maybe you should take your own closing words of advice…

  • Emm

    Erin, I agree! Perhaps those that have been touched by sadness just “get” her?

    Dorothy, thank you. That is indeed the best comment I have ever seen. Gave me a right chuckle.

  • sportjob888

    I think Susan has a terrific voice however, to truly be a serious recording artist she needs to be able to sing her own songs and not just do covers. There are millions of people that can do other artists music. Just sayin…..

  • Betty

    I get so tired of the stupid argument that Susan should sing her own songs. I assume you mean she should write them. There are wonderful artists that both write and sing. Then there are wonderful composers who write beautiful music but can’r sing. To name a few..Cole Porter, Jerome Kern, Richard Rogers and Oscar Hammerstein, George and Ira Gershwin,Stephen Sondheim.Meridith Wilson. Someone has to sing the wonderful music they wrote, Susan has sung 3 original songs written for her. Who I was born to be, This will be the year, and Return. She has also given wonderful interpretations of the covers she has done. A lot of music written today is junk. I had rather hear a beautiful cover of a great song than original junk. Also, did the great recording artists all write their own material? Did Ella Fitzgerald,Perry Como, Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, Rosemary Clooney, Doris Day, Jo Stafford, Etc Etc??? Did Verdi, Puccini. Wagner etc sing? Do great actors write their own stories or scripts? No, they interpret other people’s creations. And Susan is an Artist and a great song stylist. Remember them? And there are not millions of people who can do covers like Susan. Few, if any, have a voice like hers.