Few of this year's Christmas albums discs are as truly country as Diamond Rio's. It doesn't get any better than the bluegrass-y instrumental interplay of "Sleigh Ride," which clicks along like a fast train with banjo plucking and acoustic guitar picking. Better still is Gene Johnson's speedy mandolin work, which is all over the place. And if that's not enough, these guys also harmonize tremendously well together. Furthermore, it's easy to warm up to the jingle-jangle guitar work within "Winter Wonderland."
On the downside, except for the new-ish title song, there isn't much that's new. But the rarely covered "(Instrumental) From "Charlie Brown Christmas" helps makes up for this CD's relative predictability. These guys turn this familiar piano tune into a jazzy workout and must really love Peanuts because they also cover "Christmas Time Is Here" as subdued piano ballad.
Although this spiritually-minded release is tied to the Christian Word Records, it's the sort of CD that an instrumental-loving atheist can also love. Recording in Nashville does not a country album make, but Diamond Rio has created an impossible to dispute country Christmas album.