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Various Artists

Christmas on the Lam and Other Songs from the Season – 2016 (Red House)

Reviewed by Dan MacIntosh

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"Christmas on the Lam and Other Songs from the Season" is one of the best holiday album titles since 1996's "Christmas on Death Row," the gangsta rap album of the same name that featured the likes of Snoop Doggy Dogg (which was how he was known at the time) and other tough guys of rap. This release, though, features no rap music. Instead, it's a collection of loose and (mostly) bluesy holiday-themed tunes.

Almost everything on this collection is new. About the only familiar song is a hushed "Blue Christmas" from Larry Campbell and Teresa Williams. It contrasts markedly from Elvis' well known rocked out version. One of the other highlights is "Santa Claus Wants Some Lovin'" by Bill Kirchen and Austin de Lone. Sure, Old Saint Nick consistently keeps the world's kids happy at Christmas, but what about a little love and affection for the guy with only one lone red suit with which to impress the ladies? On the other end of the sonic spectrum, "The Baby Boy" by Jorma Kaukonen is a simple and beautiful folk song about the Savior's birth.

Kaukonen's contribution highlights the wide variety found among these 12 songs. Dale Watson and His Lonestars, for instance, brings the Johnny Cash-y honky-tonk with "Christmas to Me," with a lyric that provides an alternate lyric about how there's no place like home for the holidays.

No, "Christmas on the Lam and Other Songs from the Season" is not an Americana tribute to true crime - even though that's probably not a bad album idea. It begins with Davina & The Vagabonds' "Santa Bring My Baby Back (To Me)," which puts Claus to the romantic cause, and closes with the hymn-like "Glory Bound" by The Wailin' Jennys. Yep, this release pretty much looks at the holiday season from nearly every conceivable angle.