DISClaimer: Christmas Greetings From Keith Urban, Chris Janson, Tenille Townes, Maddie & Tae

Country music wears its heart on its sleeve all year long, so the sentimentality of Christmas music fits the genre perfectly.

A plethora of country acts issued seasonal songs this year. In addition to the 10 reviewed here, we also have offerings from Lacy J. Dalton, Mags, Darryl Worley, King Calaway, J.T. Hodges, Cam, Paulina Jaye, Wade Bowen, Stephanie Urbina Jones, Temecula Road, The Gibson Brothers, Rachel Wammack, Clare Dunn, Lauren Lucas, Mike Aiken and a bluezillion more.

Our Discs of the Day on the distaff side are the singles by Tenille Townes and Maddie & Tae. The male Disc of the Day winners are Chris Janson and Keith Urban.

KEITH URBAN/I’ll Be Your Santa Tonight
Writers: Urban/Shane McAnally; Producer: none listed; Publisher: none listed; UMG
– This has a cool, retro, doo-wop feel, complete with piano triplets and a bluesy melody. The sound of an instant classic?

THE OAK RIDGE BOYS/Don’t Go Pullin’on Santa Claus’ Beard
Writers: Anderson East/Aaron Raitiere; Producer: Dave Cobb; Publisher: none listed; Lightning
– The Oaks’ new Down Home Christmas album is one of this year’s best. Producer Dave Cobb mixes the quartet’s harmony singing front and center and puts the emphasis on newly composed holiday tunes. This light-hearted one has Joe taking the lead with Richard dipping down low on the title phrase. Also check out the fun, festive “Reindeer on the Roof,” with a video shot at Santa’s Pub, as well as the Jamey Johnson/Bill Anderson/Buddy Cannon tune “South Alabama Christmas.”

THOMAS RHETT/Christmas In The Country
Writers: Thomas Rhett/David Garcia/Ashley Gorley/Chris Tomlin; Producer: none listed; Publisher: none listed; Big Machine
– Pleasant, if somewhat routine and forgettable. Mid-tempo pudding.

JENNY TOLMAN/Cowboy For Christmas
Writers: Tolman/Dave Brainard/Bill Whyte; Producer: none listed; Publisher: none listed
– Sweet, wistful, gentle and yearning. It’s a lovely country waltz wishing that Santa will rope her a wrangler for a present. Smooth as silk.

CHRIS JANSON/Run Run Rudolph
Writers: none listed; Producer: none listed; Publisher: none listed; Warner
– Mr. Energy takes Chuck Berry’s holiday classic out for a rollicking country spin and it is a boatload of fun, fun, fun.

TENILLE TOWNES/One In a Million
Writers: Tenille Townes/Daniel Tashian; Producer: Tashian; Publisher: none listed; Columbia Nashville
– Tenille’s Songs for Christmas includes this dreamy, jazzy ditty wherein her soprano wafts above simple guitar work and cushiony strings. It’s as pretty and seductive as can be.

DYLAN SCOTT/I’ll Be Home For Christmas
Writers: none listed; Producer: none listed; Publisher: none listed; Curb
– His collection is titled, simply, Merry Christmas. And it consists, also simply, of his renditions of evergreen favorites such as this classic ballad. Background music lacking any innovation.

MADDIE & TAE/Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas
Writers: none listed; Producer: none listed; Publisher: none listed; Mercury
– Taken at a languid tempo, this classic is lushly arranged. So their vocals sound luminous and sparkly. Nicely done, ladies.

SHANE OWENS/Nothing Compares To Christmas
Writers: Shane Owens/Galen Griffin/Melissa Querry; Producer: Nick Lutz & Melissa Querry; Publishers: none listed; Amerimonte
– His country-as-grits voice delivers the sentiments in this ballad so effectively. A steel sighs and strings softly embellish the mood.

CHARLES ESTEN/On The Road To Bethlehem
Writers: Charles Esten/Mark Collie; Producer: none listed; Publishers: none listed; CE
– This is a stark, guitar-voice performance. Which is cool. Also intriguing/unusual is the fact that the ballad is sung from the point of view of Joseph while he’s on the road with pregnant Mary. Recommended.

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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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