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The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band

The Christmas Album – 1997 (Rising Tide)

Reviewed by Brian Wahlert

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CDs by The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band

Since the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band's beginning over a quarter century ago, the group has stood by its acoustic country rock sound through myriad changes in the music scene. So the music here, full of fiddle, harmonica, acoustic guitar, and mandolin, is not surprising, but it doesn't seem to fit some songs they've selected. For instance, the upbeat, bluegrassy renditions of "We Three Kings" and "It Came Upon a Midnight Clear" lack the spare, simple resplendence of the best versions of those songs.

On the other hand, the album's three new songs are fabulous. "One Christmas Tree" urges divorced couples to put away their differences at Christmas time for the sake of their children. "Love Has Brought Him Here" is a beautiful retelling of the story of Jesus's birth, and "This Christmas Morning" is a sprightly carol with such traditional lyrics and melody that you may have to check the liner notes to verify that the Dirt Band's Bob Carpenter wrote it. Overall, this is a good album, although quite uneven.