STYLE: Country RATING OUR PRODUCT CODE: 29444-13161 LABEL: Word 8871462 FORMAT: CD Album ITEMS: 1 RELEASE DATE: 2007-10-31 RRP: £14.99
Reviewed by Tony Cummings
Surely one of the most schizophrenic albums you're likely to encounter. Why schizophrenic? Well, the album begins with appalling cornball renditions of "(There Is No Place Like) Home For The Holidays" and "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas" reminding us just how ghastly those secular Yuletide ditties can sound. Then along comes the country star's elegant reading of one of the most beautiful carols, "O Holy Night". But it is track five which really grabs the attention. It is, put simply, a stone CLASSIC. The song "Labor Of Love" first appeared on the album of its writer, roots/acoustic maestro Andrew Peterson. It is, to my mind, the greatest Christmas song written since Buddy Greene and Mark Lowry penned "Mary Did You Know" in 1991, its stark images of the unsentimentalised virgin birth contrasting powerfully with all those sanitised versions of the events in that Bethlehem stable we hear every year. It's a masterly lyric ("It was not a silent night, there was blood on the ground/You could hear a woman cry in the alleyway that night on the streets of David's town/And the stable was not clean and the cobblestones were cold/And little Mary full of grace with tears upon her face had no mother's hand to hold/It was a labor of pain, it was a cold sky above/But for the girl on the ground in the dark with every beat of her beautiful heart/It was a labor of love"). To such unforgettable lyrics add a haunting melody, one of the great voices of country music and a sublime arrangement where bluesy guitar interplays with a rich string section and you have a track you'll want to play for years to come. If other tracks on this album had been of the same stature as "Labor Of Love", the rating could have been the first 11 squares in the history of Cross Rhythms. But as 'Songs Of The Season' stands we'll have to allocate it seven squares. But make sure you get to hear "Labor Of Love".
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