The first disc kicks off with the 2008 recording of “Winter Wonderland” from Darius Rucker. It is followed by “Away in A Manger” from Brad Paisley’s 2006 Christmas album. Julianne Hough’s “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” is charming and tender and this is the first time the former Target Exclusive has been offered-up to fans. “Baby It’s Cold Outside” showcases Lady Antebellum’s stellar vocal interchange between Charles Kelley and Hilary Scott and is available on CD for the first time here, the same thing that can be said about Luke Bryan’s rollicking take on Johnny Mark’s “Run Run Rudolph.” Kellie Pickler is absolutely charming on her rendition of “Santa Baby” while Trace Adkins offers up the new Christmas ballad “It’s Christmas.” It is a song that befits his stellar baritone vocal, something that can also be said about Little Big Town’s rendition of the traditional “Go Tell It On The Mountain.”
The second disc kicks off with the absolutely classic “Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer.” This song, which Johnny Marks also wrote, was originally released in 1949 and is still played 60 years later. Merle Haggard’s 1973 rendition of Jingle Bells” is included as are the 1985 Alabama classic “Christmas In Dixie” and the 1982 Dolly Parton classic “Hard Candy Christmas.” Johnny Cash’s 1972 version of “Silent Night” still sounds vibrant today amongst all these hit holiday songs as do two more Johnny Marks classics “Rockin Around the Christmas Tree” from Brenda Lee (originally recorded in 1958) and Burl Ives’ “Holly Jolly Christmas” from 1964. More recent favorites like Vince Gills glorious rendition of “O Little Town of Bethlehem” and Alison Krauss’s playful “Shimmy Down The Chimney” are included on this disc as well.
There’s really nothing to dislike about Now That’s What I Call A Country Christmas if you love Christmas songs. They are usually relentlessly cheerful and this 29 song collection is sure to become one of my holiday favorite discs and is a good balance between the present and the past. Here’s hoping that volume two is as good as this collection.