There are a lot worse albums around than this easy-going collection of country & western versions of favourite Christmas songs.
Opening with Trisha Yearwood's silky-smooth version of "The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting...)" it does lull anyone for whom C&W is not their favourite cup of meat into a false sense of security. Even Loretta Lynn does second cut, "White Christmas", no harm, and Lee Greenwood's "Let It Snow..." is as straight as a bean pole. Reba McEntire's twangy soprano on track four is where the serious stuff starts, and it doesn't look back from there on, with plenty of steel guitars and thick Nashville accents following.
The likes of Yearwood, McEntire and Greenwood have two tracks each, as do Barbara Mandrell, Steve Wariner and Ernest Tubb. You'll gather from these names that we're talking country & western establishment here, none of the feisty, pop/rock influenced stars of the 90s - unfortunately the booklet is short on information so you can't tell exactly when some of these were recorded, but Tubb goes back to the early 1950s, sounding very Hank Williams and "The Last Picture Show". I guess most of them are 1970s/1980s, though, and sound quality is generally good.
The pace is easy throughout - the closest they get to breaking sweat is a little bluegrass square dance from Bill Monroe ("Christmas Time's A Coming") and Ray Stevens' "Greatest Little Christmas Ever Wuz". All the usual Christmas songs are covered, plus some less familiar, and the only carols aired are in a medley, by Steve Wariner, as the closing track. Curiously, there are two versions of "Blue Christmas", one by Ernest Tubb (who also does "Rudolph...") and the other, not much more recent, by Webb Pierce.
It's all clean, wholesome, easy listening, and whiles away just over an hour - can't fault it.