Christmas is my favourite time of year but I’ve never really enjoyed christmas albums. I love christmas songs but the classic christmas songs, when my favourite artists release them I let out a sigh because on the one hand I should support them and buy the album but on the other hand it feels like a waste of money. However this year and last year have been slightly different. After hearing Kacey Musgraves A Very Kacey Christmas last year I realised that Country and Christmas go very well together and that an artist really can put their own stamp on a classic christmas song and album and make it sound original. So this year when I got sent Reba McEntire’s My Kind Of Christmas I was still a little sceptical but after a few spins I have come to love this album and here’s why!
There’s a nice mix of songs but it is dominated by carols, of course Country music is known for it’s references to religion so it was expected that you’d not only have the fun jingle bells type songs but a good mix of carols and the message of what christmas is all about. The piano based album opens with an upbeat “Winter Wonderland” before moving on to “The Christmas Song (chestnuts roasting on an open fire)” I feel Reba is at her best on these slower songs. The third song introduces us to the first of the religious carols on this record and I think this is one of my favourites on the album “Mary Did You Know?” was first released in 1991 by Michael English but it was made famous by Kenny Rogers and Wynonna Judd in 1996. Reba teams up with Vince Gill and Amy Grant for this version which is truly beautiful, Reba’s distinct vocals really suit it and I do love Vince Gill.
We move on to an upbeat number “Jingle Bell Rock” which is a fun song to break up the album a bit before we bring the tempo back down for “O Holy Night” this arrangement slightly different from the original again allows us to hear Reba at her best, her vocals soar on that chorus “Fall on your knees, oh hear the angel voices, oh night divine, the night when christ was born.” Reba moves on to a song I wasn’t overly familiar with but after doing my research I believe Dolly sung it in The Best Little Whorehouse In Texas, and that’s “Hard Candy Christmas.” The best song on the entire album though is an original written by Randy Houser and Dallas Davidson and Reba duets with Lauren Daigle and this is Back To God. It’s not specifically a christmas song just a religious song and it’s exactly what the World needs to hear right now I feel. In the past year there’s been so much tragedy in the World and it talks in the second verse about “are your kids ok, will they come home safe” and it’s about believing in God and doing good in the World.
We go back to an upbeat fun number next and this is the classic “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town.” Reba sings these classics well but I still feel her best songs are the carols and the slower ballads on this record. She does a beautiful rendition of “O Come All Ye Faithful” and when she teams up with Darius Rucker on “O Little Town Of Bethlehem” you wish they could be there at your own church’s carol service to sing this together! They make a lovely team, their voices go well together. As we near the end of the record Reba sings a lovely rendition of “White Christmas” again this is one of my favourites on the album, it hasn’t been altered from the original but Reba’s vocals suit it, you know it’s soft it’s gentle and again she then splits up the album quite well as she goes to an upbeat classic “Jingle Bells” and she’s made this her own, her twang really coming through and making the melody flow smoothly.
The penultimate track “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” is really beautiful. Originally written to honour soldiers serving abroad it has become a christmas standard. It reminds me of the importance of family and how precious it is to have them around at Christmas. I really like that Reba has sung her own version of this classic and again it’s something slightly different from the rest of the album. The record concludes with “Silent Night” and for this Reba teams up with Kelly Clarkson and Trisha Yearwood, who really add to this song, all three ladies have powerful, unique sounding vocals but they get the balance just right and it becomes a wonderful version of one of the Worlds favourite carols. It’s a beautiful end to a perfect collection of christmas songs from Reba. If you get one christmas album this year, it should be this one, it has every type of christmas song you need for your soundtrack to Christmas.