Although considered lately to be a pop reclusive, Richard Marx is already working on album No. 23. The ”Right Here Waiting” singer/songwriter, known for writing a bundles of AC hits for a laundry list of big names including the Luther Vandross’ Grammy winning “Dance With My Father,” pumps out A Christmas EP as a kickstarter to his upcoming full-length holiday project for 2012.
One thing’s for sure: the sampler is a festive appetizer that stays true to Marx’s style. “Christmas Spirit” conjures the subtleties of Mariah’s “All I Want For Christmas Is You” while masked with a Phil Spector Wall of Sound glisten. He even goes for reverent hymn remakes on “O Holy Night” and “Silent Night” without sounding too much like a Vienna Boy graduate.
Much of the arrangements feel like tasteful performances that either would be transplanted on a best-of-Marx album or on a hipper Nashville pop set. On “I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day,” the digital EP’s obvious showstopper, the atmosphere is enshrouded with serenading strings and Coldplay visuals. Although his voice never suspends to the clouds on its enrapturing chorus, Marx settles for a comfy mid-flight performance that still oozes heartthrob glamour. Even with the EP’s brevity, A Christmas EP is as good as a holiday EP will ever get.
J MATTHEW COBB