Blue Christmas (Audium)

Ricky Van Shelton Christmas Album

Ricky's velvet-smooth baritone is in rare form for this collection of traditional Christmas anthems. Although it's difficult to forget Elvis Presley's inimitable take on "Blue Christmas," Ricky renders it well, with some solid sax playing spicing the tune. The frosty snowman Parson Brown comes alive again in "Winter Wonderland." Ricky is best on the reflective ballads like "I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day" and "O Come All Ye Faithful," as opposed to the more flippant "Jingle Bell Rock," which seems to be wearing out its seasonal welcome this year.

The holidays get a rural slant in "Country Christmas" and a city setting in his strong performance of "Silver Bells." A subdued and tasteful acoustic guitar intro by producer Steve Gibson precedes a stirring, heartfelt vocal by Ricky on "Silent Night," one of the gentlest songs ever composed and easily the album's highlight.

-Gerry Wood

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