DISClaimer: Rhonda Vincent Tops Holiday Music Releases

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The holidays will be here before you know it, so here’s the first installment of DISClaimer’s seasonal music guide.

There are some dandy tracks here, notably from John Berry, Mickey Guyton, Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver and the duo of Kenny Rogers & Jennifer Nettles.

But nobody tops Rhonda Vincent. She has the uncontested Disc of the Day.

ROBBY JOHNSON/Happy Xmas (War Is Over)
Writers: John Lennon/Yoko Ono; Producer: James Stroud; Publisher: none listed; CMR
-His vocal is clear and strong, and he gives this plenty of country heart.

ERIC HEATHERLY/Christmas To Me
Writers: Eric Heatherly; Producer: none listed; Publisher: Psychobilly, ASCAP; Town & Country
-It has an r&b groove and a bluesy vamp. A bump-and-grind for the holidays.

LESLIE COURS MATHER/Santa Baby (You’ll Be Mine)
Writers: none listed; Producer: none listed; Publishers: none listed; Lion Eyes
-Saucy sounding. Best line: “I’m about to make your sleigh bells ring.”

RHONDA VINCENT/Dreaming of Christmas
Writer: Rhonda Vincent; Producer: Rhonda Vincent; Publisher: Sally Mountain; BMI; UM (track)
-Vincent’s Christmas Time CD has four of her original tunes alongside eight holiday standards. This lilting ditty kicks off the set with scintillating fiddle, mandolin, dobro and guitar work, lovely harmonies and an instantly lovable melody. Check out her all-star “Twelve Days of Christmas” featuring Dolly Parton, Willie Nelson, the Oaks, Ronnie Milsap, Larry Gatlin, Jeannie Seely, Lorrie Morgan, Pam Tillis, Bill Anderson, Charlie Daniels, Gene Watson and EmiSunshine. Hands down, the best new Yule CD of 2015.

CLAIRE PETRIE & T. GRAHAM BROWN/He Would Be King
Writers: James Larson/Roger True; Producer: Mark Moseley; Publisher: Woodgrain, ASCAP; Mosrite
-Claire wisely lets his mighty T-ness take the lead most of the time, since his charisma is unstoppable. The song is quite uplifting.

JAMES ROBERT WEBB/Wonderful Christmas
Writer: Paul McCartney; Producers: James Robert Webb/Daniel Kleindienst; Publisher: MPL, ASCAP; Bison Creek (CDX)
-This McCartney favorite lends itself quite nicely to a country arrangement. Webb sings with warmth, and the session musicians are superb. Nice job.

KENNY ROGERS & JENNIFER NETTLES/Here It Is Christmas/Baby It’s Cold Outside
Writers: Kenny Rogers/Frank Loesser; Producers: Kyle Lehning/Warren Hartman; Publishers: Lilonsmate/Wixen/Frank, ASCAP; Warner Bros.
– As usual, Rogers is tops as a duet partner. Nettles does her part with deliciously jazzy phrasing. The strings are nicely done, too. Jennifer Nettles hosted ABC’s Country Christmas special last week, and tonight she’s in the spotlight on NBC in the TV movie of Dolly Parton’s “Coat of Many Colors.”

DOYLE LAWSON & QUICKSILVER/It’s Christmas Time
Writers: Charlie & Ira Louvin; Producers: none listed; Publishers: Central Songs, BMI; Mountain Home
-Lordy, these men can harmonize. This gorgeous ballad is decorated with both superb singing and poetic dobro and twin-fiddle accents. Spine tingling.

MICKEY GUYTON/Do You Want To Build A Snowman
Writers: Robert Lopez/Kristen Anderson-Lopez; Producer: Byron Gallimore; Publishers: Wonderland, BMI; Capitol (CDX)
-Swirling, echoey production backs a heavenly sweet vocal performance. Wistfully romantic.

JOHN BERRY/Blue Christmas
Writers: Billy Hayes/Jay W. Johnson; Producers: John Berry/Robin Berry; Publishers: Judy J Olmstead Trust/Universal Polygram, ASCAP; JB (CDX)
-Simple guitar, piano and brushed drums back him. And with a voice this splendid and a song this great, that’s all he needs. Masterful.

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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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