Born on Christmas Day and given the middle name Noel, Steve Wariner seems like the perfect artist to release a Christmas album. And, in fact, this is his second - the first was back in 1990, at the height of his fame as the smooth singer of country-pop hits like "Where Did I Go Wrong." Fame is fickle, however, and now he records in relative obscurity for his own label.
This is an entire album of guitar-only songs - no vocals, no other instruments, just Wariner playing guitar. And surprise - it actually works. Wariner has always been recognized as a great country guitarist, but what makes this album most interesting is the wide variety of sounds.
Wariner has chosen guitars to fit the songs, from a standard steel-string acoustic guitar on "It Came Upon a Midnight Clear" to a classical guitar on "Deck the Halls" to a Telecaster on "Silent Night." The dulcimer on "I Saw Three Ships" and Tacoma Papoose on "Jingle Bells" provide particularly attention-grabbing sounds. For guitar-lovers, this album is worth a close listen, and for others, it provides good pleasant background music for a holiday party.