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Mandy Barnett

Winter Wonderland – 2010 (Rounder/Cracker Barrel)

Reviewed by Dan MacIntosh

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CDs by Mandy Barnett

With "Winter Wonderland," Mandy Barnett has recorded a favorite chair Christmas album. Once you put it on, you'll feel like you've had it as a staple in your living room for too many years to remember. Barnett sings these familiar holiday favorites like a modern day Patsy Cline, accompanied by a stellar band and real string arrangements. Her slow and thoughtful vocal on I'll Be Home For Christmas is so darn pretty, for instance, you might not even notice how sad its lyric truly is.

Barnett's holiday offering is also a distinctly secular collection. There are no songs about Baby Jesus, Angels or Mary and Joseph. In fact, Barnett doesn't even give Santa Claus a whole lot of air time. Barnett is more focused on the warmth inside, and the cold outside, instead. Songs like Winter Wonderland and White Christmas are big indicators of where Barnett's aim was at during the recording of these 12 songs.

"Winter Wonderland" is an album that will sit well with Eddy Arnold and Jim Reeves Christmas albums of country music past because Barnett has recreated the sound and overall feel of older recordings in great detail - right down to the countrypolitan backing vocals on songs like All I Want For Christmas Is You. This CD will not feed your sense of adventure, though. But if you want something new that won't shock or dismay the grandparents, "Winter Wonderland" will feel like a welcome white winter storm outside, watch from the warmth of your living room Lay-Z-Boy.