The King’s Gift by Trace Adkins

If you’re looking for “Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town,” sorry. The Jolly Old Elf passed by Trace Adkins’ house when he was recording this 10-song set of Celtic-flavored Christmas carols.

But while The King’s Gift isn’t kids’ stuff, it is a welcome addition to the holiday record field, and one to be enjoyed by the whole family. And Trace has rarely sounded better. His baritone rumbles throughout ages-old songs—some secular, some religious—like “Tannenbaum,” “O’ Come Emmanuel” and “We Three Kings.”

Throughout, the album benefits from the Celtic spin Trace and guests like The Chieftains put on the tracks via Uilleann pipes, penny whistles, harps and fiddles. It’s evocative stuff, transporting listeners back to the misty bogs of Ireland.

Two songs do rank as standouts, however. “Carol of the Drum,” featuring powerhouse drummer Kenny Aronoff, is a rhythmic tour-de-force, and “Oh Holy Night” is Trace in the pocket, reminding us that the guy who recorded the goof “Honky Tonk Badonkadonk” is, at his heart, a reverent vocalist. 

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