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The Nashville Sessions

Appalachian Christmas – 2008 (Self-released)

Reviewed by Dan MacIntosh

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Most folks love to sing Christmas carols, even if only during a shower to an empty house. However, there are also quieter moments when gentle instrumentals are called for. Appalachian Christmas, with its acoustic instrumentation and mountain flavor from Nashville artists Pat McGrath, Matt McKenzie and Andrea Zonn, is perfectly suited for the season's less hectic times. Although it has a regional title, none of these 12 tracks will be unknown to anyone. Instead, these songs are nearly equally divided between familiar sacred and secular takes on Christmas.

Some of this is downright meditative, as with O Little Town of Bethlehem, while other tracks, such as Jingle Bells and Joy to the World, are predictably jubilant. Furthermore, these renderings are relatively straightforward, uncluttered by any instrumental showing off. The understated acoustic guitar and fiddle applied to Silent Night, for instance, give it such a sacred feel, you almost feel as though you're in church. Even so, these recordings mainly make you imagine you're at home. It's not hard to picture a fire in the fireplace and something hot, sweet, and steaming inside a mug while this music plays. So if you can't go to the Appalachians for Christmas, perhaps this disc can bring a little of that hill country culture into your home.