BootLeg Betty

Cool Yule CD Review: Barnes and Noble

Barnes & Noble

Bette Midler, still spunky after all these years, brings warmth, charm, and just the right touch of sentiment to this lovely and swinging collection of holiday favorites.

If the Divine One comes off distinctly mellower than in her peak years, the muted tone is played for an advantage. The brashness that could send Midler too far over the top is conspicuously in check here. Given a brace of top-draw yuletide standards, including “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” “I’ll Be Home for Christmas,” and, of course, “White Christmas,” Midler finds her true, unaffected voice — and it’s a pleasure to hear.

A touch of camp finds its way in, and Miss M. has fun with the Hawaiian ditty “Mele Kalikimaka” and Steve Allen’s hipster “Cool Yule,” while her playful duet with the vocally ageless Johnny Mathis on “Winter Wonderland” / “Let It Snow!, Let It Snow!, Let It Snow!” is a delight. Add in a touching “Christmas version” update of Midler’s hit “From a Distance,” and you have a holiday album that can induce a smile any time of the year.

William Pearl

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