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Various Artists

A Very Special Acoustic Christmas – 2003 (Lost Highway)

Reviewed by Brian Wahlert

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It's hard to imagine a more perfect Christmas album than this one, with sixteen acoustic songs from some of the best performers in country, bluegrass, and even jazz/pop. Wynonna gives an outstanding performance on the stunning, lushly produced "O Holy Night." Patty Loveless' "O Come All Ye Faithful" is simple and gorgeous - the entire song is performed in three-part harmony, backed only by acoustic guitar and mandolin. Marty Stuart's "Even Santa Claus Gets the Blues" features the memorable opening line, "Lost my favorite reindeer in a hurricane." Alison Krauss wrote and performs "Only You Can Bring Me Cheer" with her brother Viktor - the horn-laden sound is a big departure from her Union Station bluegrass music. Backed by a cello, Alan Jackson sings the sweet love song, "Put a Ribbon in Your Hair." Norah Jones closes the album by lending her fantastic voice to the piano ballad "Peace." Other artists represented here include Reba McEntire, Willie Nelson, and Ralph Stanley.

The album is the 6th in a series benefiting Special Olympics - the previous 5 have already generated $75 million for the cause. Outstanding music and a great cause - Christmas albums don't get much better than this.