Deana Carter's latest sounds like a good place to look for solid Christmas music. Her 10 new renditions of mostly time-tested tunes warms as well as a cracklin' fire. True, her voice could use more range.
But not everyone can sing like Loretta, can they? Anyway, Carter coos her way through a bluesy "I'll Be Home For Christmas" to set a table that brims with chestnuts. Literally, as with her "A Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire." As with Bing Crosby's "White Christmas," not one living soul matches Nat King Cole's indelible rendition of the Mel Torme tune, and Carter's no different. Yet she tries. Instead of bombarding us about the boughs, she stays pretty and soft while whispering the Carpenters' yuletide from yesteryear, "Merry Christmas Darling." She's no Karen Carpenter, but Carter manages a fine interpretation.
If only, though, she hadn't tackled "Blue Christmas." Perhaps she wanted to sing it her way, but her slow blues version just doesn't do it. Nice guitar, though. Next time, will somebone please spike Ms. Carter's eggnog.