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Album Review: Merry Christmas to You
Jonathan Butler
Cover image of the album Merry Christmas to You by Jonathan Butler
Merry Christmas to You
Jonathan Butler
2013 / Artistry Music
48 minutes
Review by Michael Debbage
With Butler’s gospel recording Grace and Mercy and mainstream project So Strong both being so-so, it appeared that a very special recording was needed to return to the optimism and joy deeply associated and rooted in Jonathan’s music. So this time around the R&B crooner-jazz guitarist decided to record his first holiday offering and that magical time of the year has found its way into this superlative recording.

Merry Christmas to You does a wonderful job of wrapping up traditional carols, contemporary interpretations and even two original recordings all with the trademark singing and playing that we have come to expect from this South African recording artist. Merry Christmas to You is covered in startling interpretations, one of many being the most original opening passage of “Little Drummer Boy”. Equally as impressive is the extraordinary vocal performance unveiled on the staggering closer “O Holy Night”. Butler’s vocals here are sublime and thoroughly inspiring that even at 7 minutes is still not sufficient.

In contrast to the traditional renditions, Butler opens the album with the Donny Hathaway classic “This Christmas” that also features the horns of Rick Braun, Dave Koz and Paul Weimer. This is immediately followed with his blissful “Sleigh Ride” instrumental interpretation. Needless to say the guitar work is up front and center with a heavy emphasis on his great knack for a gorgeous swaying melody. We are even presented with two Butler originals one of them being the warm and romantic “Merry Christmas To You” that has all of the ingredients of being a future Christmas classic.

So Merry Christmas to You with the exception of two originals focuses on songs and carols that we are very familiar with. This acts as an inspiring back drop to share the greatest story of love mankind has ever seen. To do that successfully requires a very special artist. Jonathan Butler is one of those artists. Welcome back Mr. Butler.
December 7, 2013
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