Review: Amy Grant – Tennessee Christmas

amygrantThey say that when discussing realty and properties, the secret is “location, location, location.” And while Amy Grant’s Tennessee Christmas record, her first holiday outing in nearly twenty years, has nothing to do with realty, it sure helps when you are able to listen to this collection of thirteen original and cover tracks while rolling down a long stretch of Tennessee highway, the colors of the leaves having made their turn to fall, and with a cool breeze blowing in the air. Yet, even without that, you’ll have no problem falling in love with this latest of Grant’s, a soon to be seasonal favorite.

Much like the dulcet tones of Bing Crosby or the king of rock ‘n’ roll himself, Elvis Presley, Grant’s voice is already among the finest associated with the canon of great Christmas music, largely through her classic hits like “Breath of Heaven (Mary’s Song),” “Grown-Up Christmas List,” and the title track, which Grant warmly recreates here, sounding as good as ever, to launch off this heartwarming, easygoing collection of tracks.

Just a quick glance at the track list and one can imagine the obvious highlights as Grant puts her spin on classics like “White Christmas,” her breathy vocals rich and smooth, and the stark, understated take on “Joy to the World.” Likewise, the artist’s toasty spin of “I’ve Got My Love to Keep Me Warm,” followed up quickly by a duet with husband Vince Gill on “Baby, It’s Cold Outside,” stand strong but, frankly, those are just the tip of the iceberg here.

Never one to forget those who might be forgotten, Grant lends sympathy and understanding on the bittersweet track, “Melancholy Christmas,” offsetting that track’s darker tones with the playful honesty of “Christmas for You and Me,” a jaunty number that captures the heart of a classic family Christmas, complete with a 5 A.M. start. It’s a powerful contrast, reminding listeners that while we’re enjoying our family gatherings this holiday season, there are those who have lost loved ones or are simply forgotten and serves as a reminder to be mindful and reach out.

Equally compelling and poignant is Grant’s closing quartet of tracks, led off by some warm commentary from the artist and then leading into a laidback rendition of “Christmas Don’t Be Late,” complete with an anecdote or two and added vocals from her daughters. “Still Can’t Sleep” follows with a lyric that is at once nostalgic, playful, and romantic while “Another Merry Christmas” engages the shifting sands of time in the backdrop of the holidays. Finally, Grant brings things to a close with a heartwarming sing-along thank you, featuring her family, of “O Come All Ye Faithful,” which is inviting enough to make you want to let yourself in and join them in a glass of eggnog.

Of the contemporary voices making music today, none of them does Christmas quite like Amy Grant. And on Tennessee Christmas, Grant shows that she’s still got it, merging nostalgia, family, faith, and more together into a soundscape that’s as pretty as a fully lit tree on Christmas morning.

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