Dean Martin’s voice is an instrument of liquid poetry, a nigh-flawless vessel of slight inebriation, whether his blood alcohol level matched or not. As such, his voice on Christmas with Dino is the perfect one with which to be trapped on a particularly snowy night when nobody’s going anywhere. His vaguely loopy “A Marshmallow World” provides the perfect way to look at life in just such an instance, while “I’ve Got My Love to Keep Me Warm” somehow seems like the soundtrack for every couple curled up in front of a fireplace with a giant knit blanket. His orchestral backing is peppy enough to keep you from getting depressed, though he knows when to rein in his theatrics, as on the reverent “Silent Night” and the version of “White Christmas” that closes the album. Martina McBride helps open the album with one of those posthumous duets that studios love to put together these days, though her additions to “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” are appropriately conversational and make for a duet that actually sees her turning down Dino’s come-ons as quick as he can dish them out—remarkably, the dash of modernity doesn’t hurt the disc one bit. Compiling the best bits of two Christmas albums along with a rare early Christmas single, Christmas with Dino is Martin’s definitive holiday statement, and perhaps the definitive holiday album of its style. Like an egg nog spiked with rum, nothing goes down smoother this time of year.
// Notes from the Road
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