George Strait - Classic Christmas

George Strait
Classic Christmas

(MCA Nashville)

First Appeared in The Music Box, December 2008, Volume 15, #12

Written by John Metzger

Sun December 7, 2008, 06:30 AM CST


Since joining forces with MCA in 1980, George Straitís greatest strength has been his consistency as a vocalist, interpreter, and performer. In effect, Strait has positioned himself so perfectly in the marketplace that he has become a brand name. By viewing his output as his product line and his fans as his customers, he quickly realized that in order to remain successful he must reliably fulfill everyoneís expectations without rocking the boat. This certainly is not an easy task to achieve, but for the most part, his strategy has worked remarkably well. In fact, his missteps have been so slight that they largely have gone unnoticed by the masses. On his latest outing Classic Christmas, however, Strait takes his penchant for tradition too far. As a result, the set may be the most disappointing effort in his canon.

Strait filled each of his previous holiday-oriented forays (Merry Christmas Strait to You and Merry Christmas Wherever You Are) with a mixture of well-worn favorites and freshly penned tunes. On Classic Christmas, he opted to follow a different path. The endeavor is composed exclusively of Yuletide hymns and contemporary standards. Although this concept is sound, Strait and his team of session players take relatively few liberties with the material. Consequently, itís only when the ensemble relaxes into the Western swing of cuts like Jingle Bells and Up on the Housetop that the collection truly springs to life.

Elsewhere, Classic Christmas suffers from a rigid adherence to its plainspoken arrangements. Straitís reverence for tradition is, perhaps, to be expected, but aside from the faint hint of the country-imbued twang that adorns tunes such as Silent Night; O Christmas Tree; Hark, the Herald Angels Sing; and O Come, All Ye Faithful, thereís nothing that truly distinguishes them from the countless other versions that have been recorded over the years. If this problem plagued only a track or two, Strait might have escaped unscathed. Unfortunately, so many of the tracks on Classic Christmas fall into this trap that the outing struggles to become anything more than a pleasantly forgettable excursion. starstar


Of Further Interest...

Johnny Cash - Christmas with Johnny Cash

Merle Haggard - Goin' Home for Christmas

3 Fox Drive & Friends - Christmas Grass, Volume 3


Classic Christmas is available
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!


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