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Mindy Smith - My Holiday
Review By: Jim Moulton, CSO Staff Journalist

Christmas in July. Yes, that is when artists record their Christmas albums. How do you get Christmas inspiration in July? Well, the group had a little luminescent silver tree in the studio, it worked quite well. I was going to write an article on music sound quality and then I got this. Vanguard, thank you for giving me everything about this very special artist. I am not a fan of Christmas CDs, because usually it is the same old stuff. Well, this is not. Smith wrote five of the songs, a couple with Chely Wright who sings with her on one cut as well. Wright penned a song for the disc, so that leaves only four traditional songs.

Back to the sound quality issue. Smith, sort of has a signature sound and it is back here on this disc. Smith seems relaxed, this disc sounds better than anything that she has ever done. Some of the songs have a jazz sound to them, new for Smith. Every musician here is a "first-call" Nashville sessions player which means they are the best. Steve Buckingham is back to co -produce the disc with Smith. She also produces the last song on the CD which is a rock song done a bit like "Come To Jesus" from her first CD. A lot of songs you can listen to anytime of the year. This is Smith's best CD, Gary Paczosa mixed it and it sounds like Doug Sax mastered it.

Kenny Vaughan from her first CD is back on electric guitar. Bryan Sutton is back on acoustic guitar. Lex Price is on mandolin. Eddie Bayers is on drums. Michael Rhodes is on bass. Andrea Zonn is on strings. Paul Franklin plays steel on a few songs (new ,for a Smith CD).

Smith does a duet with Thad Cockrell which is awesome titled "I Know The Reason". Just a beautiful song with great hooks and melody. She is doing some neat things with her vocals on this disc. Really, this is an awesome project. The edge to the music is back on a lot of songs that was missing from her sophomore CD.

"I'll Be Home for Christmas" is done in an alt/country version with some great guitar by Vaughan.

"It Really Is (A Wonderful Life)" written by Chely Wright, is a jazzy song with Sutton and Vaughan providing excellent guitar. Really done upbeat, just love this.

OK, imagine Smith and Alison Krauss singing "Away In A Manger" with just Sutton on acoustic guitar, Rhodes on bass and Zonn on viola.

"Come Around" is the Christian rock song that ends the disc. A really great song with some amazing lyrics. Smith sings harmony. Will Kimbrough plays electric guitar and Dave Jacques is on bass. 

The title track, "My Holiday," is excellent, love the inflections on Smith's voice.

"Follow The Shepherd Home" is a beautifuly inspired song about our shepherd Jesus Christ. Acoustic song with backup vocals by Chely Wright. Great mid-tempo song, guitar by Vaughan. Love the lyrics, written by Wright. Franklin plays some great pedal steel. 

Great pics in the insert, Mindy Smith is a very special talent and she has just raised the ante.

Imprint - Vanguard
Release Date - Oct 9

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