Given that Dwight Yoakam and producer Pete Anderson are two of the most creative, innovative people in country music, it's not surprising that they completely reinvent eight Christmas classics here. This is never boring, but unfortunately, as many attempts fall flat here as succeed.
The Stax soul groove on "I'll Be Home for Christmas" and the Bakersfield sound of "Silver Bells" are examples of interesting experiments that fail. However, Yoakam turns in a stunning performance on "Silent Night," where he's backed by only an organ for much of the song, and no matter how far he may stray from traditional country, he proves once again on "Santa Claus Is Back in Town" that he's still one of the best honky tonkers around. Yoakam also wrote two new songs: the upbeat "Santa Can't Stay" and the brooding, jazzy title track, in which he implores Christmas to distract him from his pain.
Yoakam fans will probably love this album, but others should probably opt for more traditional Christmas music.