Personnel: Clay Aiken (vocals); Tanesha Gary, Catrice Joseph Hart, Gerti Lee James, Laura Dean (soprano); Eliseo Rom n, John Eric Parker, Chris Zelno, Maurice Lauchner, Glenn Rainey (tenor); Emanuel Kiriakou (acoustic guitar, electric guitar, programming); Michael Landau (electric guitar); David Finck (bass instrument); Vinnie Colaiuta (drums); Clark Anderson, Angela Fisher, Quiana Parler, McCrary Choir, Jacob Luttrell, Michael McElroy, Michael Elroy, Clark Anderson (background vocals); Jeff Mironov (guitar); Ira Siegel (acoustic guitar); Stephen Ferrera (harp, percussion); Kenny Ascher (piano); Allan Schwartzberg (drums); Walter Afanasieff (programming, keyboard programming); Darryl Phinnessee, Conesha Monet (background vocals).
Audio Mixer: Andy Zulla.
Recording information: Chalice Studios, Los Angeles, CA; Hensen Studios, LA; Paramount, Los Angeles, CA; Right Track Recording, New York, NY.
Photographer: Eric Ogden.
Arrangers: Walter Afanasieff; Patrick Williams; Torrie Zito; Jorge Calandrelli.
Given that Clay Aiken's success story is a little like that of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer's underdog-made-good tale, it's entirely appropriate that the AMERICAN IDOL runner-up would record a Christmas album. That MERRY CHRISTMAS WITH LOVE is so defiantly traditional just adds to the warm-and-fuzzy vibes.
With nary a hint of hip-hop or pop-punk to be found, the record is a testament to the evergreen appeal of the heavily orchestrated holiday epics of Christmas past. Aiken's bell-like voice is perfectly suited to the sweeping, old-time Disney/MGM production style here, and his evangelical Christian beliefs no doubt add to the sincerity with which he imbues these performances. Listening to the warm chestnut glow of "Sleigh Ride" or "Winter Wonderland," listeners might be forgiven for thinking they just stepped onto the set of a 1940s Bing Crosby film. Of course, Aiken can't resist adding a little of his trademark R&B spice to the eggnog, and this extra touch is what makes MERRY CHRISTMAS WITH LOVE accessible to holiday-music lovers of all inclinations.