Kelly Clarkson is still one of the best stars to come from American Idol alongside country princess Carrie Underwood. Following the release of her huge-selling second album Breakaway, Clarkson has had a bit of a rough ride commercially but achieved her best album sales in years with 2011 album Stronger. Last year she released her first Greatest Hits album and earlier this year she released her first proper country single Tie It Up, which is believed to be the lead single from a forthcoming country album. Ahead of the festive season Clarkson is releasing her very first festive collection Wrapped in Red.
Wrapped in Red has already been released in the US where it’s peaked at number 3 so far. The album is a mixture of classic Christmas songs and original tracks alongside a cover of Imogen Heap’s holiday-themed Just For Now. The title track Wrapped in Red kicks the album off with Clarkson’s trademark powerful vocals taking the lead over producer Greg Kurstin’s festive production. Lead single Underneath The Tree is one of the highlights on the record and could quite easily find itself becoming a Christmas classic. The bouncy production would make Mariah Carey proud and Clarkson’s vocal is particularly strong.
Elsewhere on the album Clarkson tackles festive favourites including Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, Blue Christmas and White Christmas. She teams up with Ronnie Dunn for a playful rendition of Baby It’s Cold Outside and enlists country greats Trisha Yearwood and Reba McEntire for a powerful version of Silent Night. Johnny Marks’ Run Run Rudolph allows Kelly to let rip over a classic rock’n’roll beat showcasing the edgier side of her voice.
Original track Winter Dreams (Brandon’s Song) was written for Clarkson’s husband and it actually already sounds like a festive classic. It’s a beautiful moment on the record and one of the highlights. We weren’t quite as keen on 4 Carats which acknowledges the more commercial side of the festive season as Clarkson pleads for an expensive surprise on Christmas Day. My Favourite Things from The Sound of Music is another song we weren’t all that keen on and it doesn’t really fit with the rest of the songs here.
For the most part Wrapped in Red is a fun and enjoyable Christmas album. It showcases various sides of Clarkson’s remarkable voice and is a pretty cohesive collection of songs. Whilst it’s not as good as Mariah’s classic Merry Christmas, it’s definitely up there in terms of holiday albums from best-selling stars. We’ll definitely be giving it plenty of plays over the Christmas period. Well done Kelly!