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The Boxmasters

Christmas Cheer – 2008 (Vanguard)

Reviewed by Dan MacIntosh

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When you think of Billy Bob Thornton and the holiday season, the actor/singer's sinfully funny "Bad Santa" movie comes immediately to mind. And while "Christmas "Cheer" - recorded with his roots-y The Boxmasters trio - is not nearly as naughty as that film, one imagines Thornton's "Bad Santa" character, Willie, would get a big kick out of it. That's because it's a redneck Christmas album, which is made abundantly clear when the band starts off Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer with the line, "You know Bubba and Teddy." Elsewhere, My Dreams of Christmas complains of unfulfilled Christmas wishes and Slower than Christmas speaks about dysfunctional families. There's so much anti-Christmas spirit going on, in fact, it's hard to take somber songs, like We Three Kings and Happy X-Mas (War Is Over), seriously.

With that said, fans of traditional country music will be cheered by the straight acoustic playing throughout this recording. Thornton is only a passable vocalist, but his acting skills help him do a fine job at conveying these sad story songs. Those with a sarcastic sense of humor, who get no satisfaction from all the overly sincere Christmas music released each winter, will raise a glass of cheer to this one.