Album Review of
Home for Christmas: Voices from the Heartland

Label: Rounder

Genres: Holiday

Styles: Christmas

Written by Joe Ross
November 21, 2020 - 11:24pm EST
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Record labels take great joy in giving us holiday presents that also serve as highly playable samplers of their many great signed artists. A favorite label among acoustic music lovers, Rounder Records’ Home for Christmas also illustrates just how eclectic the label’s offerings have become over the years. The juxtaposition of popular Christmas carols sung a cappella by Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver and selections from Roomful of Blues and Charles Brown doesn’t bother this listener who enjoys many varieties of music. Later in the set, a soulful presentation of The Persuasions’ “You’re All I Want for Christmas” demonstrates a different kind of a cappella arrangement. Some listeners might find the set to be so varied that they’ll feel a little uneasy, but I found it to be a satisfying experience. Whether blues, bluegrass, western swing, R&B or light jazz, Rounder’s seasonal sounds are perfect for family gatherings where some mostly easy listening entertainment is needed to create that yuletide mood. You might even be moved to dancing with your second cousin when Wilson Pickett’s rocking rendition of “Jingle Bells” or Shirley Alston’s funky “Winter Wonderland” cue up. How can you resist tapping your toes to Sam Moore’s soulful singing of "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town"?  While the songs are standard covers for Christmas albums, the diverse offerings are very well-arranged and inspirational. As a sampler, it’s wonderful. Each artist imparts their own distinctive style and personality on their selection. A notable rendering of “The Christmas Song” by Deanna Carter, for example, also gets one curious about her entire album of holiday music (Father Christmas on the Rounder label). And if one’s never heard Leon Redbone’s Christmas Island album, then “Blue Christmas” is a savory tasting from that.

Songs (and artists) on the album incude I’ll Be Home For Christmas (Riders in the Sky), Santa Claus Is Coming to Town (Sam Moore), Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas (Roomful Of Blues), The First Noel/It Came Upon A Midnight Clear/Joy to the World (Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver), Please Come Home For Christmas (Charles Brown), The Christmas Song (Deana Carter), Jingle Bells (Wilson Pickett), Blue Christmas (Leon Redbone), You’re All I Want for Christmas (The Persuasions), Let It Snow (Rhonda Vincent), Winter Wonderful (Shirley Alston), Oh, Holy Night (Irma Thomas).

If you're faced with being home for the holidays during a pandemic, this album will bring you some much needed holiday cheer. Rounder’s little holiday gift to us will even cause the Grinch and Mr. Scrooge to smile. (Joe Ross, Roots Music Report)