I’m not sure who we apply to for these things but I really would like to see Norm Lewis return to the West End stage – I didn’t catch him in Les Mis but I did get the briefest look at him at a Lance Horne concert so Santa if you’re listening… In the meantime, we have to make do with the many pleasures of The Norm Lewis Christmas Album.
And my are they plentiful. Lewis is certainly generous, offering up a Christmas stocking packed full with 18 tracks and as much variety as a family-sized bag of Revels. Produced by Lewis with Richard Jay-Alexander and Lewis and accompanied by MD Joseph Joubert, with band members George Farmer and Perry Cavari, it makes for an eclectic but beguiling confection.
We run the full gamut of festive standards from beautifully unfussy renditions of ‘The Christmas Song’ and a particularly magical ‘What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve?’ to gently funkified takes on ‘The Little Drummer Boy’ and ‘Let It Snow’. He also stretches his pipes in some style on a goosebump-inducing medley of ‘Ave Maria’ and ‘O Holy Night’.
But just like that bag of Revels, there’s curveballs (or the orange ones) aplenty as the tracklisting takes in the likes of ‘Bring Him Home’ and Marvin Gaye’s ‘What’s Goin’ On’. It’s kind of fun to hear Oliver!’s ‘Where Is Love’ being taken for cocktails at the piano bar but the ‘Jingle Bells’ fakeout makes little sense of the inclusion of ‘Fever’…but fa la la la la, you do the Christmas you want and that Lewis has made this album this inclusive of a package works.
I don’t think I can quite forgive the ‘Santa Buddy’ version of ‘Santa Baby’, it just feels a bit bro-tastic even as he’s asking for Hamilton tickets but it’s only one small disappointment on an otherwise festive treat.
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