A Skaggs Family Christmas, Vol. Two

For many artists, it’s a challenge to create a holiday collection that captures their year-round musical personalities. No such difficulty, however, hampers the Skaggs clan, whose follow-up to 2005’s A Skaggs Family Christmas improves upon the first volume’s rustic recipe with a pleasing blend of the familiar and the unexpected (plus a bonus full-length DVD concert).

The album’s faith-based and largely subdued tone nods to Emmylou Harris’ 1979 Light of the Stable (four of that standout disc’s tracks and arrangements are robustly revisited here) yet distinguishes itself with off-the-beaten-path selections such as the uplifting, sermonlike “Reunion Song,” the solemn showpiece “What Songs Were Sung,” emotively delivered by Molly Skaggs, and brother Luke’s evocative new instrumental, “Flight to Egypt.” Only a staid, symphonic-styled snippet of “Joy to the World” seems misplaced on this otherwise warm and organic-sounding set, anchored by down-home harmonies and a heaping helping of Southern holiday spirit.

Those who found the family’s first platter a welcome accompaniment to their Yuletide table will surely want to make room for seconds.

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