As far as Christmas albums go, it doesn't get any better than this.
I've received a number of Xmas-themed discs the past couple of weeks, and "Gifts of the Season" from Susan House (http://www.susanhouse.com) is the only one I'm going to review. And praise it I shall.
What House has done is breathe fresh air into these overplayed Christmas standards. Her honey sweet voice and the hot-chocolate warmth of Randy Halberstaat's piano provides a moving, uplifting season's greeting. It helps that you can sense House's genuine affection for the material and the holiday itself. Her performances are not paint-by-numbers generic; she sings with real feeling, giving these classics sweeping gusts of passion.
This is most evident on "Silent Night," transformed here into an ethereal multilingual duet with Philippine vocalist Norm Santarin, and "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas," which is as dreamy as a winter wonderland.
House keeps the arrangements free of clutter and artificial gloss. In addition to Halberstaat, she is joined by Jeff Johnson on bass and Mark Ivester on drums and percussion. Ivester's drumming is particularly engaging on "Do You Hear What I Hear?"
This is an LP that you play every December, one that can be shared with the entire family.