Merry Country Christmas! Check Out My Top 3 Festive Records!
It’s that time of year again when artists release their Christmas records and with so many needing to find the Christmas spirit this year there seems to be a lot more festive releases than usual! I have listened to the majority coming out of the Country community and I narrowed it down to three stand out records and you may be surprised by my choices!
First up is the re-issue of Lady Antebellum’s 2012 album “On This Winter’s Night” which features four new tracks. The stand out being “Christmas Through Your Eyes” which was written by the three members for their children. Hillary, Charles and Dave have all become parents since the record was first released so it was nice for them to re-visit that record and add to it in such a way. It for me is the highlight of this record and anyone with new additions in their. Family will feel a special connection to the song. As well as the original track list which featured fan favourites such as Holly Jolly Christmas and Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, the band have also added three more Christmas covers. These include The Beach Boys “Little Saint Nick” and Ray Charles’ “The Spirit of Christmas” Ray was one of Charles Kelley’s idols so it was a special song for him to record with the band. As with any Lady Antebellum record it’s their harmonies which truly shine through.
Second on my Christmas list is Dolly Parton’s “Holly Dolly Christmas”. It’s not really Christmas if you don’t have a Dolly Parton festive record and I’m now the proud owner of two! Dolly still sings and talks of Christmas with all the wide eyed wonder of a child and that’s what’s so great about this latest record. There are a number of self penned songs which is unusual for a Christmas album but refreshing! Some stand out tracks are the duets on here though and there are a few of them. An original track called “Christmas Is” features the vocals of Dolly’s God-Daughter Miley Cyrus. “Cuddle Up, Cozy Down Christmas” is another song Dolly wrote herself and is getting a lot of radio play over here in the Uk, she duets with Michael Buble’ for this one and their vocals work well together. My favourite however is the duet with her brother Randy, after all Christmas is about Family! “You Are My Christmas” is another original sung sublimely by the Parton siblings. The songwriting really makes this record a strong contender if you’re looking for a fresh festive album to add to your collection.
Thirdly, I want to draw your attention to a Christmas EP called "Heart in the Snow" by the super-group The Hello Darlins (I’m calling them a super-group because they’re a group and they are super!!). This band has been one of my discoveries of the year, their musicality is so strong, they have played with and for a lot of big name artists and now they’re coming together with some of the finest songwriting and the most intricate productions and the only word for it is Wow! I’ve played this EP a lot on my radio show and I just don’t know what I’ll do when January comes. Again it’s one that showcases the group’s songwriting as opposed to the sometimes over-done classics (although it does feature one classic but they've put their own stamp on it). “One More Christmas” draws on Mike Little’s personal experience of losing his step-mum on Christmas Eve a few years back, and fulfilling her final wish of having the family together. The title track “Heart in the Snow” began as an instrumental piece composed by Mike little and Murray Pulver until Candace Lacina was moved to write lyrics inspired by the memories of her children’s earliest Christmases.The vocals are soft and delicate throughout this album, they dance across the room as you sit back and listen and the production and arrangement is so well thought out, in order to let the lyrics have the spotlight. Well, I hope Christmas lasts forever as this is a record I want to keep playing over and over again!
So there you have it, my top three Christmas records! Make sure to take a listen for yourself and let me know if you agree or disagree with any of my choices.