From her earliest lush R&B ballads, Vanessa Williams' voice could conjure up a safe haven of warmth from the bluster of the world. Like Star Bright, Williams' previous holiday album, 2004's Silver & Gold evokes a roaring fire and shelter from a swirling storm, capturing the peace within the spirit of Christmas.
Williams opens with the Johnny Marks-penned title-track classic, a perfect fit for her voice, delivered sweetly and serenely. She quickens the pace on the next song, a lively version of "Joy to the World" that pairs her singing with the dulcet tones of Brian McKnight, followed by a host of standards performed with flair, particularly her almost haunting rendition of "The Little Drummer Boy." Later she changes the tone by bringing in the incomparable voice of veteran actor Ossie Davis to read Langston Hughes' words on "I Dream a World," the prelude to the new, jaunty R&B number "December Lullaby." Williams closes with the impeccable choice of the timelessly pretty "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas," a fitting end to a soulful Yuletide collection. ~ Jason Thurston