Thursday, October 25, 2007

Warm, relaxed and inspired, this feels like home

Songs of the Season
Artist: Randy Travis (www.randytravis.com)
Label: Word Records
Length: 13 tracks/43:20 minutes

Randy Travis makes himself right at home with these songs of the season. This feels as warm, relaxed and inspired, as you would hope for the holidays to be. It’s fitting that the first song is "(There’s No Place Like) Home for the Holidays."

Listeners will be comfortable with a fine mix of carols and classics done in that country style that has endeared Travis to so many. It may be the richness of his voice that is the most inviting, as he sings each song as though it were written for him.

After the often-covered "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas," there is a wonderful sequence that focus on the spiritual side of Christmas. It begins with the classic "O Holy Night," which is led by a few simple guitar chords. The vocals are subdued allowing one to be quietly moved by the thoughts in the song.

Then comes a soulful rendition of "Go Tell It on the Mountain" that features a gospel choir. "Labor of Love," written by Andrew Peterson, is destined to be a classic. This song paints a realistic picture of the circumstances surrounding the birth of Christ.

It was not a silent night
There was blood on the ground
You could hear a woman cry
In the alleyways that night
On the streets of David's town

"O Little Town of Bethlehem" is a personal favorite. I first heard Travis perform it with just a guitar on an episode of "Touched by an Angel." The original performance was a highlight, as is this equally beautiful version of a sweet song.

Repeatedly with every song Travis shows how well he can adapt a song to his simple, straightforward style. The vocals are beautifully understated, never overly dramatic, which could lessen the appeal.

The lighthearted "Nothin’s Gonna Bring Me Down at Christmas Time" is a delight.

When he makes a small change to an arrangement, as he does on "Joy to the World," it sounds fresh. It’s the best take that I’ve heard on the song in a long while. It’s enough to make one wish that he had taken more chances.

His deep voice is perfectly suited for "The First Noel." The CD closes on a strong note with an excellent version of another modern song, "One King."

This could become a modern classic that will be enjoyed for many years to come.
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