Monday, November 14, 2016

Music Review: Tennessee Christmas by Amy Grant



Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Many fun Christmassy tracks
Cons: “Melancholy Christmas” and “Another Merry Christmas”
The Bottom Line:
More Amy Christmas
Mostly simple yet fun tracks
Worth buying for fans




More Christmas Joy from Amy Grant

Amy Grant’s previous Christmas releases have a prominent place in my Christmas music rotation each year in December, so when I learned she was releasing Tennessee Christmas, I jumped to get it.  While there are some great tracks on here, it’s not quite as strong as her best.

The disc opens with a new version of the title track, which has become a classic since she originally recorded it in 1983.  This is a simplified, almost acoustic version of the track.  Don’t worry, you’ll still recognize this tribute to spending the holiday with family, but the subtle differences are fun.

This song sets the tone for much of what follows.  Many of the tracks are just Amy with a guitar, a keyboard, and some percussion.  It’s simple, yet it works.  And when she does layer in the other instruments or the background singers, the songs sound just as good.

Spending time with family is another constant theme of the disc.  It pops up in the mid-tempoed “To be Together.”  And if you are looking for a bit of fun, check out the upbeat “Christmas for You and Me.”  I guarantee that song will give you a smile or two.  Likewise, “Still Can’t Sleep” captures my joy and excitement of the season.

Amy does throw in a couple of very somber moments.  “Melancholy Christmas” is written from the point of view of someone who is lonely during the holidays.  Meanwhile, “Another Merry Christmas” is about those who struggle during the season.  I get that it is important to remember people like she sings about in these songs, but they are pretty depressing pieces, and I definitely will be skipping them on a regular basis.

While there are plenty of new tracks or at least less recorded tracks, like the 70’s vibing “December” and the Broadway feeling “I’ve Got My Love to Keep Me Warm,” the disc has very view traditional tracks.  I guess that happens when you are on your fourth Christmas release.  Still, Amy Grant provides us with a light jazz cover of “White Christmas” and a slow version of “Joy to the World.”  I must admit that it took me a couple listens to get into this one, but I do find myself enjoying it.

Amy also does a cover of “Christmas Don’t Be Late.”  Yes, it’s the lyrics of the Chipmunk song, but she never does Chipmunk voices.  Instead, she does talk a bit in between choruses, and I find that I enjoy that.  (Talking can get old at times.)  The last time through, her daughters join her, and the quartet sounds amazing together.

She is also joined with a group of family and friends for the final track, “O Come All Ye Faithful.”  She starts by introducing the song and doing the last verse just her and a guitar.  It’s nice, but when the choir comes in, it sounds amazing.

No, this disc doesn’t reach the levels of Amy Grant’s first couple of Christmas releases, but Tennessee Christmas is still enjoyable.  I will be listening to it for years to come.

CD Length: 42:21
Tracks:
1. Tennessee Christmas
2. To Be Together
3. Christmas for You and Me
4. Melancholy Christmas
5. December
6. White Christmas
7. Joy to the World
8. I’ve Got My Love to Keep Me Warm
9. Baby, It’s Cold Outside (with Vince Gill)
10. Christmas Don’t Be Late
11. Still Can’t Sleep
12. Another Merry Christmas
13. O Come, All Ye Faithful

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