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Dale Watson

Christmas Time In Texas – 2001 (Audium)

Reviewed by Tom Netherland

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CDs by Dale Watson

Santa's tunes circa 2001 step it up with Dale Watson's strong first hoiday album. Supported by eight original tunes and four sprigs of the past, Austin's answer to Merle Haggard rocks around the Christmas tree with a decidedly honky-tonk feel.

Check out his duet with labelmate Danni Leigh on "Christmas Love." A friendly tease that's easy on the ears while striking fresh ground, Watson shows that though he's probably never seen a white Christmas down in Austin, he can evoke the feel of a cozy winter's day.

From lazed holiday fare ("Christmas Time In Texas") to the racked in rockabilly "Santa Bring Her Back," Watson wears Christmas red with quite a flair. Further widening his reach, Watson waxes sad on the hard-country "Christmas Without An Angel," highlighted by Ricky Davis' darned-right on steel guitar playing.

Elsewhere, shades of Johnny Cash via Haggard done Watson style crops up on a toe-tapping "Christmas With You." Throw in a holly jolly "Santa and My Semi" and a walk through the winter wonderland, Texas style on "Hot Texas Christmas Day," and Watson's first sleigh ride through Santa's songs comes up reindeer red.