Toby Keith released a Christmas album in 1995, but that was comprised of all-original material. As its title would suggest, Classic Christmas goes for time-tested material, with one disc tackling secular “seasonal” songs and the other covering more spiritual territory. The choices are solid if predictable, and the arrangements are concise. Despite the unembellished instrumentation, there’s an air of that too-clean, MOR feeling about it. Keith has made little secret of his Christian faith, and on the religious disc in particular he sounds like he means it. He even manages to make “Little Drummer Boy” tolerable. Also, he gets points for resisting the temptation to bring in a parade of annoying “guests”. Still, this is pretty tame from the guy who once socked it to the Taliban, and you can’t help but feel an opportunity’s been missed.
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