Personnel: Aaron Neville (vocals); The Blind Boys of Alabama (vocals).
The opening title track of Aaron Neville's 2005 Christmas album, which extends a heartfelt prayer to those in need, has proved to be resoundingly poignant, since the singer's beloved hometown, New Orleans, was destroyed--leaving thousands homeless and displaced--by that September's Hurricane Katrina. While the shadow of the tragedy lingers over the first song, the rest of CHRISTMAS PRAYER does its best to provide a hopeful, celebratory spirit. On Neville's version of "Go Tell It on the Mountain," the holiday classic becomes a jubilant, upbeat soul tune, while "It Came Upon a Midnight Clear" showcases the singer's trademark angelic voice. Although Christmas albums can be paint-by-number affairs, this warm Yuletide record stands out, thanks to Neville's emotionally compelling performances.