With the release of Christmas with Chris Ruggiero, the dynamic, soulfully and gracefully performed and gorgeously arranged debut holiday album by the 23-year-old PBS vocal sensation, Michael Buble finally has some healthy, inspiring competition for this generation’s most cool and charismatic Christmas crooner.
Emerging as a recording artist in 2021 with an incredible three full length solo albums featuring fresh takes on classic pop songs – and a hipster duo album with Don Danneman from Cyrkle – Ruggiero has made a national impact via PBS’ Doo Wop, Pop & Soul Generations show. It was perhaps only a matter of time before his beautiful voice, charming old school sensibilities and emotionally intuitive interpretive style were paired with legendary arrangers like Charles Calello (Sinatra, Streisand, Anka, Manilow) and Christian Tamburr (Clint Holmes, Julio Iglesias) for such an irresistible (and essential) musical stocking stuffer.
Tucked in among sparkling, still gotta hear them twists on classics like “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” (watch out, Johnny Mathis!), “Please Come Home For Christmas” (sorry, Charles Brown and Don Henley), “Sleigh Ride” and “Merry Christmas Darling” (imagine an otherworldly duet with Karen Carpenter) is a fascinating two song sequence that pretty much sums up Ruggiero’s emergence in the pantheon of legends. Following a rollicking, brassy rendition of “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home”), he duets with its still incredible original singer Darlene Love on one of the most luminous versions ever of the David Foster penned, Natalie Cole originated “Grown Up Christmas List.”
Other gems you’ll want on your 2022 holiday party playlist are Ruggiero’s lightly swinging trio take on “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” (featuring trumpeter Wayne Bergeron), a sweet rendering of the obscure Frankie Lymon tune “It’s Christmas Once Again” – and a superb, soaring orchestral version of “Silent Night.”