Heigh Ho, dear lovely rainbow tribe, Bobby Patrick, your rainbow reviewer is back in CD-Land to offer another broken-down breakdown of a new music release. So, strap in and get ready, as Bobby goes on the record ABOUT the record.
This week’s album entry in the BobbyFiles comes from 80’s Pop queen, Debbie Gibson, whose holiday offering WINTERLICIOUS has some bright bounce here and some cloying syrup there, but, overall, is a nice holiday treat. Now, Bobby readers might think that, with all our rainbow chatter and super queer positive outlooks, this season would be Bobby’s beat, and the answer is … yes and no. We are getting lots of Holiday material to review, which is par for the course, right now, and it can all be a bit too much, but when La Debbie’s new album came across our desk, we happily put in our headphones for a listen. (We just know that all of you have read Bobby’s 5 Rainbow Review “Debbie Gibson Sings and Celebrates The OUT OF THE BLUE 35TH ANNIVERSARY EVENT At 54 Below” where we praised her, her voice, & her music all the way over my rainbow and back. In fact, we fell in love with her all over again.)
WINTERLICIOUS offers up original songs Debbie has penned, mixed with both secular and sacred favorites, and is, overall, happy and upbeat. Kicking off with an old faithful, LET IT SNOW, Gibson’s pop singer voice is bright as well as melodic. Debbie was the forerunner of later popists like Britney et al., but she did it first. Her pipes are still powerful, and the jazz arrangement lifts this one out of the usual mundane crooning. Track 3, GOD REST YE MERRY GENTLEMEN, is a Sacred moment performed with real orchestral tension that utilizes violins/strings pulsing like a runner’s heartbeat. Drums add to this tension in the second verse, and the cool pounding beat, coupled with the minor key, feels sacred and tribal all at the same time, with none of the usual mournful wailing or slow melodic dirge feeling that this carol gets. The best of her song cuts from the “Old Gaurd” is her recording of an Irving Berlin classic, where she is joined by her father! Now, you may think that WHITE CHRISTMAS – DUET WITH DADDY JOE might just be the overly syrupy confections we spoke of earlier, but you would be wrong, my angels, because Daddy Joe has a wonderfully fine tenor that folds in very nicely with his daughter’s sound. Also, his vibe is not that of an ol’ fogey voice at all, even when giving it a bit of Bing BuhBuhBuhBoo. It all works so well, despite an unnecessary key change; the harmonies are lovely and Joe’s high notes are great! Mixed in amongst the Christmas songs of yesteryear is her rendition of the Bricusse/Newly song written for WILLY WONKA… THE CANDY MAN. Produced with Joey Melotti, this cut is a fail for Bobby, owing to its dippy arrangement with what sounds like canned backup singing. If the album was sugary before, it is now cloyingly so, with another heavy-handed key change for the last verse. It’s fine for a children’s holiday show, we guess, but just too much fudge over chocolate candy on top of chocolate ice cream.
Top of the heap for her original cuts is HEARTBREAK HOLIDAY, a song she wrote and performs with Joey McIntyre – our FAVORITE New Kid. Produced by Sean Thomas, the duo makes an interesting choice to go 90% unison singing, with Joey keeping his tenor up in Debbie’s same octave, in order to sing side by side. Not a lot of harmony throughout, but it’s pretty, nonetheless, and we really enjoyed it. Also produced with Thomas is JINGLE THOSE BELLS, and this one is a miss, as it is, in the end, nothing special, with the usual jingle bell lyrics about candy canes and puppies. The best part of the track is at the end, where she giggles and calls out – “That was fun”.
Debbie’s self-produced CHRISTMAS DREAMS is the answer, though, with a real C&W feel to it. While there is still a lot of talk of candy canes, here, it is cute – cuter than JINGLE THOSE BELLS, as the poetry is more meaningful. Gibson’s song ILLUMINATE is, for Little Bobby, the best of her original stuff, with its gorgeous piano opening into a ballad with solid lyrics. Her poetry is about the reason for the season, making this the most “religious” of the tracks, so far, but it’s far more about the illumination of love rather than religion. Her final cut CHEERS (produced by Fred Coury) is another slow ballad with a rhythm that pulses to our relaxed heartbeats, and with lyrics about friends and the passing years… those here and those gone. The recording is a little poignant and uplifting, and a touching salute to her late mom.
Overall, dear Bobby readers, we enjoyed La Gibsons WINTERLICIOUS, despite the few raindrops we let fall with this rainbow review. What’s fun is really fun and what’s beautiful is so very beautiful and this would make a fine addition to your holiday playlists, and so …
This one gets 3 ½ Out Of 5 Rainbows – Put this one in your collection today.
You Can See And Hear WINTERLICIOUS On The Spotifies: HERE
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