Brad Paisley Christmas
The country Christmas album has become an inevitability for every new Nashville star, despite the difficulty in breaking new ground in the holiday music arena. Brad Paisley Christmas is refreshing because it keeps the schmaltz to a minimum. The cover image — a shiny Fender Telecaster wrapped in a string of lights — is the perfect representation for the music within, which alights with the chromed-out sounds of Mike Johnson’s guitar and Randle Currie’s pedal steel. In addition to several stellar takes on holiday standards (and a blazing version of Buck Owens’ “Santa Looked a Lot Like Daddy”), Paisley actually manages to bring something new to the table with a handful of originals. “Penguin, James Penguin” invents an amusing new character for the holiday, while “364 Days To Go” takes an unusual angle on the Christmas song by avoiding the anticipation of the holiday season, and instead conjuring the post-Christmas glow. Where most singers are content to run through the motions, you have to respect Paisley’s determination to add something of his own to the tradition.