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John Berry

My Heart is Bethlehem – 2000 (Ark 21)

Reviewed by Tom Netherland

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CDs by John Berry

What a voice. Okay, John Berry's pipes don't boom like Bing's, but he walks well through winter wonderland's seasonal fare like "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas" on his first Christmas album. Of 10 tunes, but three are new. Take the well-chosen title track. Michael Peterson's season-with-a-reason composition finds comfort cradled amid Berry's resilient voice. Likewise, Mark Spiro's strolling "Snowed In," a lightly arranged drift into the season's more commercial and symbolic aspects.

Wisely, country's soulster revives such reliables as "Let it Snow" and "The First Noel," setting forth a frothing feel of the holidays. Of warm fireplaces and cold snow. Of gifts, God and glory. Berry's heart never strays too far from the real meaning of Christmas.

And unlike SHeDAISY's rendition of "What Child is This," Berry's radiates. Stars shimmer from his tongue as he sings with heart, conviction as his guide. So much so that Berry betters his regular country releases.