3 Fox Drive & Friends
Christmas Grass, Volume 3
First Appeared in The Music Box, November 2007, Volume 14, #11
Written by John Metzger
Fri November 30, 2007, 06:45 AM CST
As was the case with its predecessors, Christmas Grass, Volume 3 is hardly a revelatory affair. Mixing material that is secular and spiritual as well as familiar and obscure, the set was born not from ego, but rather from a communal frame of reference. The songs are more important than the artists who are performing them. While the outing doesnít contain any dazzling displays of proficiency, it also ó with the exception of bland interpretations of O Holy Night and One Bright Star that are tucked into its center ó isnít so inoffensive or impersonal that it becomes instantly forgettable.
The driving force behind the latest installment of the Christmas Grass series is 3 Fox Drive, an up-and-coming, bluegrass-oriented outfit from upstate New York. Surrounding the group is an all-star team of session players who undoubtedly will be familiar to fans of American roots music ó dobro player Rob Ickes, guitarist Bryan Sutton, fiddler Aubrey Haynie, and bass player Byron House, among them ó as well as several guest vocalists, including Sarah Jarosz, Sonya Isaacs, and Charlie Daniels. The music that emanates from the participants is delivered delicately, and as a result, the tasteful arrangements are able to establish a mood that is comforting, relaxing, warm, and inviting.
Although the endeavor is well suited to providing quiet companionship, Christmas Grass, Volume 3 also steadfastly refuses to slip completely into the background. Both The Christmas Song and White Christmas are given gently lilting cadences as fiddle, dobro, mandolin, and banjo unite in a playful dance, while Iíll Be Home for Christmas gallops gleefully toward its destination. Elsewhere, Larry Sparks modestly transforms I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day into a country classic, while John Cowan revels in the soulful, country-blues refrains of Please Come Home for Christmas. Consequently, with its sweet harmonies and lovely musical settings, Christmas Grass, Volume 3 is a neatly wrapped present of glad tidings and joy that is as celebratory as it is soothing.
Christmas Grass, Volume 3 is available from
Barnes & Noble. To order, Click Here!
1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2007 The Music Box