At 2 discs and 37 songs, this compilation just might take you more than 1 holiday season to digest. But what's a music community supposed to do when it's overloaded with talent, as Yuletide certainly indicates?
In addition to celebrating the holidays, the comp serves as a follow-up to last year's "The Other Side: Music From East Nashville," a delightful roundup also put together by Last Train Home frontman Eric Brace.
Brace's Music-City-by-way-of-D.C. group is represented by "Home for Christmas," a sad ode that shuffles along with sweet harmonizing and mandolin. The underheard Phil Lee contributes the well-greased "(I Wanna Spend My) Christmas Time With You," probably the only Christmas song you'll hear with the phrase "buck naked" in it. Mark & Mike's funky-for-the-whole-family "Merry Christmas-Tighten Up" combines holiday staples such as "Jingle Bells" and "Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer" with Archie Bell & The Drells's "Tighten Up."
There are a number of well-done and interesting covers, including The Gypsy Hombres's "Django Bells" and "Away in the Manger," which Pete Finney and Guthrie Trapp perform on pedal steel and mandolin. More reflective songs from artists such as Kevin Gordon ("Louisiana Snow") and Jon Byrd ("Silent Night") mix well with upbeat and quirky tunes such as Megan Hayes's terrific "Kosher for Christmas" or Jennifer Nicely & the Downtown Wigs's saucy take on Billy Ward's "Bringing in a Brand New Year." Sara Beck, Elizabeth Cook, Nelson Hubbard and Duane Jarvis also add standout tracks. Proceeds from Yuletide sales go to EarthMatters NetWorks, an East Nashville-based environmental group. (www.redbeetrecords.com)