DISClaimer: Christmas Offerings

brandon heath111This is the season that validates what Christian music stars espouse all year long. Fittingly, our CCM performers take the spotlight in this Christmas column. Our Disc of the Day goes to Brandon Heath. The DisCovery Award belongs to Andrew Greer.

BRANDON HEATH/Just A Girl
Writers: Brandon Heath/Lee Thomas Miller; Producer: Ben Shive; Publishers: Haidaway/Writers of Sea Gayle/Itchy Baby; BMI; Provident (track)
-This CCM star’s holiday CD is titled Christmas Is Here. It mixes half traditional songs with half originals. Of the latter, this gentle, folk-pop jewel shimmers with sincerity. Underscored by piano, acoustic guitar and strings, he sings the saga of Mary seeking shelter to give birth from the point of view of the innkeeper.

JULIE INGRAM/Joy To The World
Writers: none listed; Producer: none listed; Publisher: none listed; LongShot (track)
-Some songs lend themselves to country rearrangements. And some don’t.

JOHNNY MATHIS, VINCE GILL AND AMY GRANT/I’ll Be Home For Christmas/White Christmas
Writers: Irving Berlin; Producer: Fred Mollin; Publisher: none listed; Columbia (track)
-This legendary crooner recorded his last pop CD in Nashville, and he returned to Music City to craft Sending You a Little Christmas. It’s loaded with collaborations with the likes of Susan Boyle, Billy Joel, Natalie Cole, Gloria Estefan and Jim Brickman. On these two Irving Berlin classics, his lustrous vocal partners are Vince and Amy. Johnny’s iconic tenor leads the way on the first title while Amy sings lead weaving “White Christmas” into the lovely arrangement. Kristin Wilkinson’s string section is fabulous.

THE HAGEES/God With Us
Writers: James Philip Bryson/Nathan F. Cochran/Barry E. Graul/Bart Marshall Millard/Michael J. Scheuchzere/Robin Troy Shaffer; Producer: Michael Sykes; Publishers: Simpleville/Wet as a Fish, ASCAP; Difference/Capitol
-This family quartet has a gloriously melodic collection titled, simply, Christmas. They sing their faces off on this throbbing, inspiring, opening number. The pleasures continue as they trade lead vocals and harmony parts throughout the rest of the album. Eight of the 13 selections are familiar chestnuts.

THE ROBERTSON FAMILY/Duck The Halls
Writers: none listed; Producer: Buddy Cannon; Publishers: BMG Gold/Run Slow/Sony-ATV Tree/Team Jase/Korie R/Missyrob, BMI; EMI (track)
-Yes, the Duck Dynasty cast has a Christmas album. And, yes, it is titled Duck the Halls. And the title tune does, indeed, feature duck calls. Fortunately, it is brief. Celebrity guests elsewhere on the collection include Josh Turner, Alison Krauss, Luke Bryan and George Strait. But the real surprise is that some of the Robertsons sing quite well, themselves.

LEGACY CHRISTMAS/God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen
Writer: traditional; Producer: Melissa DuPuy; Publisher: public domain; Living Waters For
-Treasured Carols of the Kirk is a mostly instrumental collection featuring Deanie Richardson (fiddle, mandolin), Sam Levine (flute, whistle), Russell Davis (keyboards) and producer DuPuy (guitar, mandolin, bouzouki, banjo, bodhran) with three vocals by Alyth McCormack. As the title implies, the repertoire is drawn from some of our oldest Christmas songs. The lovely arrangements generally have an Irish lilt, and the listening is easy. Proceeds benefit Living Waters for the World.

andrew greer11ANDREW GREER/Do You Hear What I Hear
Writers: Noel Regney/Gloria Shayne Baker; Producer: Chris Kimmerer; Publishers: Regent/Jewel, ASCAP; M’AM (track)
-Middle Tennesssean Greer sings in a simple folkie tenor with a slight vibrato and is surrounded by sympathetic acoustic instrumentation. He doesn’t overwhelm you, but gradually wins you over on The Christmas Sessions. Guests include Sandy Patti, The McCrary Sisters, Phil Medeira and Cindy Morgan.

SAWYER BROWN/Just One Night
Writer: Mac McAnally; Producer: Mark Miller; Publisher: Beginner, ASCAP; Curb (CDX)
-This pretty ballad is one of the best of the new Christmas songs I’ve heard this year.

TEEA GOANS/Christmas Time Is Here
Writers: Vince Guaraldi/Lee Mendelson; Producer: Terry Choate; Publisher: Lee Mendelson Film Productions, BMI; Crosswind (CDX)
-This lady continues to impress. Previously noted for true-blue country stylings, she proves she can easily handle jazz chord changes on this sterling outing. Lend her your ears. Highly recommended.

PAUL LOVELACE/Christmas Every Day With You
Writers: Doug Wayne/Kyle Wyley; Producer: Doug Wayne: Publishers: Handover Fist/Kylo/Side Car, BMI; Star Base (CDX)
-Mr. CDX, himself, offers a lilting ditty for the holiday season. Sweetly romantic.

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Robert K. Oermann is a longtime contributor to MusicRow. He is a respected music critic, author and historian.

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