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This past week my wife and I were fortunate to catch a Christmas concert by The Nashville Tribute Band, of whom I’d heard many good things but had never personally been exposed. I was so impressed that I bought their new Christmas album, Merry, upon exiting the show. Having listened to it all week, I give it my strongest recommendation for all who’re looking for quality Christmas music.
For those unfamiliar with the group, The Nashville Tribute Band is a group of LDS musicians, led by Diamond Rio keyboardist Dan Truman, who bring a bit of country and gospel flavor to Latter-day Saint music. Counting among their members Truman’s sons (who are established artists in their own right) and other talented musicians, the band offers one powerhouse live show, matched in quality by their studio offerings.
Merry: A Nashville Tribute to Christmas (buy the album here) combines classic favorites with new songs, offering a potent blend of fun-and-frothy with more reverent, uplifting tracks. Breaking down the songs on the album:
- “Anyone I Know” is an upbeat tune about heading home for Christmas.
- “Drummer Boy” is a unique, Southern-rock-flavored take on the classic tune with a lot of soul.
- “Feliz Navidad” takes the Latin favorite and injects plenty of energy.
- “Do You Hear What I Hear?” gets the whole band into the vocals with some strong harmonies and country sound.
- “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” gives Father Christmas a Wild West attitude.
- In “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” Ben Truman is more Michael Buble than Tim McGraw, but his coffeehouse sound is southing and aches with yearning.
- “Mary Hold Him” is Jason Deere’s original song, and it may be my favorite on the whole album. A tender, faithful summation of the true reason for the season.
- “Longfellow” recounts the true story of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, writer of the next song.
- “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day” blends the band’s vocals with bells, flutes, piano, and other orchestration to soaring effect.
- “Pray for Me (Pray for You)” isn’t technically a Christmas song, but it is a call for interfaith unity, a stadium anthem urging believers everywhere to supplicate Heavenly Father.
- “Red, White & Blue Christmas” features guest vocalist Abby Anderson in a stirring dedication to soldiers away from loved ones during the holidays.
- “Sleigh Ride” is an upbeat instrumental version of the festive tune.
- “Luke 2” features children reading the Bible story to lovely orchestration.
Jonathan Decker is a licensed marriage and family therapist, actor, film critic with The KJZZ Movie Show, and author of 250 Great Movies for Latter-day Families. To get his reviews follow him on Facebook or sign up for his newsletter.