Chock full of country b-listers, Country Christmas is seemingly geared towards an odd cross section of country music fans. While not quite skewed towards dyed-in-the-wool country purists, the album’s ambiance definitely isn’t for fans of pop-country, either. Country Christmas is more in tune with an adult contemporary audience that leans towards the much softer side of the genre and possibly country-tinged gospel. Even the most uptempo of the tracks on the compilation (Suzy Bogguss’ “Two-Step ‘Round the Christmas Tree”, Eddie Rabbitt’s “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree”) are hardly raucous.
There’s nothing particularly new about any of the offerings on Country Christmas, either. With tracks stretching back to 1968 with Glenn Campbell’s Willie Nelson-penned carol, “Pretty Paper”, the most recent track on the disc is 2004’s “Shimmy Down the Chimney” with Alison Krauss. Chris Ledoux bears the distinction of the only artist to pop up twice on the album. First, with a rendition of “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town” — which, while cheery, doesn’t pack as much fun as scads of other previously recorded versions of the classic — and then closing out the album with a (plain)spoken word rendering of “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas”.
While it’s not exactly a dirge with tinsel-decked pine needles, Country Christmas certainly isn’t a party-starter, either. Marked by a distinct lack of octane even on the most typically joyful seasonal songs, this one is best suited to mellow gatherings or intimate, family-only tree trimming parties. This one’s a Christmas coma.