You can now read 5 articles in a month for free on BostonGlobe.com. Read as much as you want anywhere and anytime for just 99¢.

MUSIC GIFT GUIDE | Our holiday music pick

Mary J. Blige, ‘A Mary Christmas’

Mary J. Blige

“A Mary Christmas”

Three years ago R&B singer Mary J. Blige appeared on Andrea Bocelli’s “My Christmas,” and she was hands down the most soulful part of the Italian tenor’s otherwise ho-hum holiday album.

It turns out Blige has a knack for interpreting Christmas music, striking just the right balance between sacred and secular. On “A Mary Christmas,” her first such album, Blige swings and sways her way through a collection of songs both reverent and revered.

Continue reading below

She worked on it with David Foster, who also produced Christmas albums by Bocelli, Rod Stewart, and Josh Groban. His touch is not exactly light. He tends to iron out the songs until they sound impeccable, if not always warm and cozy. Be forewarned: This is Blige at her most easy listening, smothered in strings with nary a high note out of place.

“A Mary Christmas” has its moments, though. “Little Drummer Boy” quakes with a gospel choir, and on “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” Blige loosens up to croon with ease. Barbra Streisand, whose penchant for pristine production is clearly a touchstone for this album, simmers alongside Blige and trumpeter Chris Botti on “When You Wish Upon a Star.”

Tasteful renditions of “My Favorite Things” (as in, “these are a few of my favorite things”) and “Petit Papa Noël” (sung in French) are nice surprises amid the chestnuts (“Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer”).

Loading comments...
Subscriber Log In

You have reached the limit of 5 free articles in a month

Stay informed with unlimited access to Boston’s trusted news source.

  • High-quality journalism from the region’s largest newsroom
  • Convenient access across all of your devices
  • Today’s Headlines daily newsletter
  • Subscriber-only access to exclusive offers, events, contests, eBooks, and more
  • Less than 25¢ a week
Marketing image of BostonGlobe.com
Marketing image of BostonGlobe.com
Already a subscriber?
Your city. Your stories. Your Globe.
Yours FREE for two weeks.
Enjoy free unlimited access to Globe.com for the next two weeks.
Limited time only - No credit card required!
BostonGlobe.com complimentary digital access has been provided to you, without a subscription, for free starting today and ending in 14 days. After the free trial period, your free BostonGlobe.com digital access will stop immediately unless you sign up for BostonGlobe.com digital subscription. Current print and digital subscribers are not eligible for the free trial.
Thanks & Welcome to Globe.com
You now have unlimited access for the next two weeks.
BostonGlobe.com complimentary digital access has been provided to you, without a subscription, for free starting today and ending in 14 days. After the free trial period, your free BostonGlobe.com digital access will stop immediately unless you sign up for BostonGlobe.com digital subscription. Current print and digital subscribers are not eligible for the free trial.