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Martina McBride

White Christmas (with extra tracks) – 2007 (RCA)

Reviewed by Dan MacIntosh

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CDs by Martina McBride

Martina McBride has one of those naturally beautiful voices; one that lends itself perfectly to Christmas carols. White Christmas -- which has been re-released with three additional tracks --may lack originality, but it's hard to argue with McBride's pitch-perfect singing. An exception to this artist's usual perfectionism is the intentionally off key orchestration applied to "Jingle Bells," which will likely stop you in your tracks. There's also the odd pairing of McBride and Dean Martin on "Baby, It's Cold Outside". If nothing else, this swinging, big band recording suggests that - squeaky moral image aside - McBride might have fit in well with the Rat Pack. One might quibble with her heavily orchestrated take on "Away in a Manger", which is a song that usually benefits greatly from instrumental simplicity. There's even a stuffy, formal sounding choir backing McBride. Nevertheless, the track's slight Celtic feel is a nice touch. McBride's powerful pipes are put to best use on anthems like "O Come All Ye Faithful" and "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing" because the sound of her voice can make sinners tremble - even at Christmastime. With its suit and tie/formal gown ambience, "White Christmas" is far from a down home, country Christmas. But for any dress-up Christmas occasion, McBride has given us 16 classy holiday favorites.