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Joey + Rory

A Farmhouse Christmas – 2011 (Sugar Hill)

Reviewed by Dan MacIntosh

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CDs by Joey + Rory

You just gotta love Joey + Rory. This may be a duo of traditionalist country artists, but on the act's first Christmas album they find room for Garth Brooks' I Know What Santa's Getting for Christmas, who is no commercial slouch, as well as a few of their own until now unfamiliar holiday songs, including the seasonal overview of It's Christmas Time.

While they're doing this balancing act, Rory Lee Feek wrote Remember Me, which asks celebrants to please remember Christ at Christmas time, while the jazzy, accordion and piano What the Hell (It's the Holidays) takes a much more secular approach to the season.

Overall, this release is long on relatively unfamiliar holiday songs, and short on re-treaded favorites. There's Blue Christmas and Away in a Manger, but that's about it when it comes to meeting usual Christmas album expectations. This husband-and-wife act earns extra points for roping in Merle Haggard to sing on his If We Make It Through December, which - with our current economic doldrums - couldn't be any more relevant.

For many performers, Christmas albums are like commercial stopgap measures, which give them time to put together a regular, non-seasonal release. However, "A Farmhouse Christmas" fits right in with Joey + Rory's prior two releases. Those already Joey + Rory fans should not hesitate to complete their J+R catalogue with this fine new addition to the duo's album family.