Home  I CSO StoreContact 

CSO Radio - Reviews/Features - Indie Artist Spotlight - Interviews - Artist Sites - Links

A Country Music Christmas 2007 - Featuring A New Album by Tracy Lawrence  
(and other personal favorites for the Christmas season)
Special Feature by Cheryl Harvey Hill 

You've heard me say it many times before but it bears repeating, one of the most affordable gifts you can give during the Christmas holiday, or for any special occasion, is music. A full album or a single song, it doesn't matter; music is the perfect gift and a most affordable stocking stuffer for yourself or someone you love.

The biggest contender vying for my number one Christmas album spot this year is All Wrapped Up in Christmas, and I admit it, the reason is simply because it is Tracy Lawrence. Need I say more? I don't think so. Well, okay, for those of you who may need a little convincing, I'll elaborate. With the release of his very first single in 1991, he created one of the most impressive strings of continuous hits ever compiled by any artist, in any genre, before or since. His first album produced three consecutive number one hits and went platinum; all told, he has accrued sixteen number one hits, twenty top ten hits, two platinum albums, two double platinum albums, and countless accolades and other awards since then and, oh yes, during the mid-'90s he was number two on the list of most-played artists in all genres which clearly established him as one of the foremost artists in country music. See what I mean? Now, back to his new Christmas album.

The album kicks off with the title cut and this toe-tappin' ditty, with its incredible piano licks and fun lyrics that are certain to ignite a spark of recognition for many, is guaranteed to lift your spirits and generate some smiles. In addition to the three new songs, Lawrence has put his own enjoyable stamp on seven great classic Christmas songs and the end result is a feeling akin to being curled up in front of the fireplace wrapped in your favorite afghan with someone you love. But if the music on this album doesn't lift your spirits and you need a visual assist, let me suggest that you take out the liner notes and unfold them. Now, if that photo doesn't make you smile; there is something wrong with your country hunk radar! Seriously, all kidding aside, Lawrence is one of the few country artists who has stood the test of time and continually improved over the years. His unique voice has just kept getting better and, as the mellow strains of "The Christmas Song" are lovingly pushed through your speakers with an assist from a lilting steel guitar, it is easy to understand why his career has endured.

I'm sure that "Cold Beer" was included just for the pure fun of it and pure fun is what it is. Cute lyrics and an infectious melody will make it impossible to not get caught up in the music. Lawrence says the songs he chose to record for this album are some of his personal favorites from his own childhood but he credits daughter Skylar with choosing "Here Comes Santa Claus" and daughter Keagan for choosing "Frosty the Snowman." As for me, I couldn't choose a favorite song from this album; I liked them all.

There are several other new Christmas albums to choose from this year but the ones that are locked in at the top of my "must have" list are from previous years; All I Want for Christmas is a Real Good Tan by Kenny Chesney, A Traditional Christmas by Joe Nichols, What A Wonderful World by LeAnn Rimes, and An Acoustic Country Christmas by Chris Young. Here is a brief synopsis of my favorites (culled from previous features) and, at the bottom of the page, a list of several others that you might want to consider. To be fair, they are in alphabetical order by the last name of the singer; both in my synopsis and in the list.

Kenny Chesney's All I Want for Christmas is a Real Good Tan. The title song, written by the multi-talented Paul Overstreet, is a rhythmical, fun, easy-listening tune that leaves you with a real good feeling, and Chesney's duet on "Pretty Paper," with country icon Willie Nelson, who wrote the song, was especially delightful. Their rendition was so superb that it left you feeling like you might actually be able to forgive the major store chains for starting to celebrate Christmas back in July. Although they don't harmonize, their transition from one singer to the other is flawless and Chesney is able to match Nelson's unique, metered phrasing. Magnificent in its simplicity.

Joe Nichols - A Traditional Christmas: No new artist in Nashville is more qualified to sing traditional Christmas songs than the incomparable, handsome, heir apparent to traditional country legends than Joe Nichols. His amazing baritone voice adds warmth to everything he sings. He kicks off the album with a really pleasing rendition of "Let It Snow" and later on the album he sings a version of Irving Berlin's "White Christmas" that I'm sure would please even Bing Crosby; the harmonica riff on the bridge, like Nichols' smooth as silk voice, is exhilarating and certain to cure anything that ails you. Masterful arrangements and his soothing voice are the perfect new vehicles to deliver old classics. The album is exceptional from beginning to end and the instrumentals on this album are in perfect harmony with his remarkable voice on every song.

LeAnn Rimes - What A Wonderful World: LeAnn Rimes puts a new spin on some old standards and introduces some new songs that definitely have the potential to become standards. Rimes co-wrote on three of the songs on this album but regardless of the songs, her voice glides over the lyrics like an Olympic champion on perfect ice. "A Different Kind of Christmas," one of the three songs on this album co-written by Rimes, is a touching observation on the reality of the world as it is on this holiday season. 9/11 changed the world forever and the lyrics of this song communicate a somewhat melancholy perspective that reflects the raised awareness we have all experienced since that fateful day. However, despite the heaviness of the topic on this particular song, Rimes voice leaves you feeling peaceful and optimistic. The title song, "What a Wonderful World," is one of my all-time favorite songs and Rimes' version is one of the most beautiful I've ever heard. This is definitely a song that easily bridges the seasons and speaks to your heart no matter what time of year it is and the same thing can be said for this album.

Chris Young - An Acoustic Country Christmas: On his special Christmas album, Young delivers five wonderful songs, four classics and one original Christmas song by Chris Gray, with only the accompaniment of a guitar; hence the title. His delightful baritone voice delivering a Christmas carol is enough to get anyone in the holiday spirit. The third song on the album is a beautiful new Christmas song with a humble message from an artist who is certain to be a star one day. "O Holy Night" is one of my all-time favorite Christmas songs and I never get tired of hearing it. Many artists have recorded this song with a large orchestra backing them but Young's version, accompanied only by his guitar, is elegant in its simplicity. This album is a definite must have. Unfortunately, it's not available anymore...

Last, but certainly not least, is If Every Day Could be Christmas: this is the first album by Richie McDonald, former lead singer of Lonestar, since he left the group. I didn't include the album review here because it is part of a very special promotion that began last week so I reviewed it separately. You will find a link to my review of this album HERE and on the main page. McDonald won a lot of new fans among our staff when he announced that he would donate $5 to the Loretta Johnson Medical Fund for every album purchased via the special link set up on the Fan Clubhouse site. For additional details Click Here.

So, there you have it. These are my picks for the best of the best Christmas albums, of this year and every year. If you have a favorite of your own that isnít listed here; letís here from you. You can just submit the title or write your own RPR (Real People Review). Music, like most art, is subjective. I try my best to listen with an open mind but I canít listen to every album and so maybe I missed someone who should be on this list. Donít be shy; feel free to comment on my picks or suggest your own; after all, YOU are what CSO is all about. We care what you think; that is why we provide you a platform from which to speak. So, give us some feedback; weíre listening.

 Kenny Chesney - All I Want for Christmas is a Real Good Tan 
*
Diamond Rio -- The Star Still Shines 
 Alan Jackson - Honky Tonk Christmas 
 Alan Jackson - Let it be Christmas 
 Toby Keith - Christmas to Christmas 
*
Toby Keith - A Classic Christmas 
*Tracy Lawrence - All Wrapped Up in Christmas 

 Lisa Layne - All I Want for Christmas Is You  
*Lonestar - My Christmas List (Cracker Barrel Stores Only)
 Joe Nichols -- A Traditional Christmas 
*Martina McBride - White Christmas 
*
Richie McDonald - If Every Day Could be Christmas 
 LeAnn Rimes -- What a Wonderful World 
 
George Strait - Merry Christmas Strait to You 
 Chris Young - An Acoustic Country Christmas (not available) 
*
Various Artists - Hear Something Country - Christmas 2007 (Carrie Underwood, Brad Paisley, Alan Jackson, Kenny Chesney, Blaine Larsen, Terri Clark, Montgomery Gentry, Phil Vassar, Kellie Pickler, Keith Anderson, Sara Evans, Brooks and Dunn, Martina McBride, Johnny Cash)

*new 2007

 

Reviews/Features I Indie Artist Spotlight I Interviews I Artist Sites I Links I News I CSO StoreContact 
Copyright © 2000 - 2010 CountryStarsOnline.com - All Rights Reserved - Site Designed by Jim Weaver Productions