by: Various Artists
It doesn't take a critic to inform music listeners that there's a glut of holiday music on the market. And lo and behold, each November-December more is unceremoniously dumped. Cynicism aside, though, most listeners kind of like it when one of their favorite artists re-records a Christmas classic or writes something brand new, and that's where 2005's Coming Home for Christmas comes in. This collection is something of a hodgepodge, drawing songs from as far back as 1975 but also including two songs from 2005. The oldest entry is John Denver's version of "The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire)," and while it's a fairly nice take, its simple production is light years away from the overblown "A Christmas to Remember" (1989) by Amy Grant. There's also some genre mixing here, as country bumpkins like Lonestar, with "Little Drummer Boy," rub up against the new age of Jim Brickman's instrumental "Snowflake." The collection also takes one back to numerous eras. Hall & Oates offer an '80s take on "Jingle Bell Rock," Michael Bolton a '90s take on "White Christmas," and Mulberry Lane a post-millennium take on "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas." Coming Home for Christmas will most likely appeal to those who enjoy popular radio with an occasional backward glance by way of an oldies station. ~ Ronnie D. Lankford, Jr.