Black Music Matters Festival

Darius Rucker

Home for the Holidays – 2014 (Capitol Nashville)

Reviewed by Dan MacIntosh

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CDs by Darius Rucker

When it came time for Darius Rucker to throw his hat into the holiday album ring, he was clearly aiming for the old school, traditional realm of such things. The heavy orchestration for these 12 songs hearkens back to the days when crooners like Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra tracked Christmas projects, rather than anything that might pass for country.

With that said, though, Rucker represents himself quite well with this traditional album of (mostly) familiar Christmas songs. Although studio fixing may have been involved in the process, Rucker sure sounds like he's improved his singing since his rock days with Hootie & the Blowfish, as he doesn't sound unbearably flat the way he once did back in the '80s.

This is mainly filled with favorites, from opener "Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow," to closer "White Christmas." However, there are a few memorable wildcards, such as the jazzy, piano tinkling "What God Wants for Christmas," which puts a distinctly spiritual bow on the package. Sheryl Crow, in stark contrast, brings sexy heat to the always welcome duet, "Baby, It's Cold Outside."

"Home for the Holidays" won't win Rucker any points with traditional country fans, but it ought to score the man big time with traditional holiday album buffs.