A seasonal soft-rock set from the one-time Pink Floyd beater.
Mike Diver 2009
Absolutely acceptable in the 80s, at least at the start of the decade, Texan soft-rocker Christopher Cross is best remembered for accumulating a stack of awards for his 1979 debut album. An eponymously titled collection, it spawned a massive hit in Sailing, which triumphed in two categories at the 1980 Grammy Awards. Cross won four overall, and added an Oscar and a Golden Globe a year later for his theme to the Dudley Moore-starring movie Arthur.
But his success didn’t last, and after mixed reviews for his second album, 1983’s Another Page, Cross slipped from the limelight. He’s never stopped working, though, racking up a number of below-the-radar releases that have kept fans onside while never troubling those who are only reminded of his endeavours when asked: what artist’s debut LP beat Pink Floyd’s The Wall to the 1980 Grammy for Best Record? Given his decent level of productivity, it was perhaps inevitable that Cross would compile a Christmas collection. He recorded this album in 2007.
That it’s only seeing a UK release now is a reminder that Cross really doesn’t have the appeal he enjoyed at the peak of his powers. This has sneaked out, with no fanfare to speak of. But that’s entirely appropriate, as there’s no bluster to be heard on A Christopher Cross Christmas. An assortment of seasonal standards and traditional numbers, it’s an album that doesn’t come close to breaking a sweat in its arrangements, Cross’s voice backed by gentle acoustic guitar and tender piano.
If you were a fan of Sailing’s softness, you’ll certainly enjoy these interpretations. Others beware, though: prolonged exposure can suffocate, as there’s no let up in the syrupy sentimentality that seams through the set. As such, Cross’s actual commitment can be questioned, with many of these efforts struggling to elevate themselves above rudimentary exercises. The whole thing sounds made for the money, Cross out to make a buck rather than create an album of lasting quality. But then again, given how far he’s fallen from public favour over the last (almost) 30 years, one can’t really fault the man for doing what he must to pay the bills. The royalty cheques have surely dried up by now.
That it sounds cold is fine – ‘tis the season to be frosty. But that this collection is also calculated of design and clinical of execution ensures it’s one for the most reverent fan only.