Bluegrass and White Snow: A Mountain Christmas

Bluegrass and White Snow: A Mountain Christmas

by Patty Loveless
     
 

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An album perfectly realized in all aspects, the holiday-themed Bluegrass & White Snow presents Patty Loveless's plaintive mountain voice at its heartrending best, setting it atop exquisite acoustic arrangements heavy on fiddles, guitars, and mandolins. Her selection of songs -- evergreens, if you will, and a couple of sensitive originals penned by Loveless and

Overview

An album perfectly realized in all aspects, the holiday-themed Bluegrass & White Snow presents Patty Loveless's plaintive mountain voice at its heartrending best, setting it atop exquisite acoustic arrangements heavy on fiddles, guitars, and mandolins. Her selection of songs -- evergreens, if you will, and a couple of sensitive originals penned by Loveless and her producer/husband Emory Gordy Jr. -- evoke the spiritual underpinnings of the season more than the celebratory aspects. Stately, austere bluegrass renditions of "Away in a Manager," "Joy to the World," "The First Noel," "O Little Town of Bethlehem," and "Little Drummer Boy" emphasize the introspective nature of the approach here, but that's not to say there's no room for merriment. The Nashville Mandolin Ensemble spices up the proceedings with a joyous instrumental rendition of "Carol of the Bells," and Loveless's buoyant reading of "Christmas Time's a Comin' " brooks favorable comparison to Bill Monroe's and Emmylou Harris' timeless interpretations of Tex Logan's jubilant celebration of homecoming. Banjo and twin fiddles spark a toe-tapping account of "Christmas Day at My House," a Loveless-Gordy original, and Ricky Skaggs (on mandolin and background vocals) and Dolly Parton (background vocals) beautifully support Loveless's emotional reading of the album-closing title track, also from the Loveless-Gordy stable, which offers a poignant but upbeat recollection of Christmas in the bluegrass country. Pure of heart, simple and true in its aims, Bluegrass & White Snow ranks with the classic Christmas albums in any genre.

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - William Ruhlmann
In the wake of the success of the O Brother, Where Art Thou? soundtrack, with its traditional country and bluegrass music, Epic Records green-lighted Patty Loveless' plan to record an acoustic country album, and she earned critical kudos and respectable sales for 2001's Mountain Soul. Bluegrass and White Snow: A Mountain Christmas, her holiday follow-up, repeats the approach on a collection of traditional and original seasonal music. As with Mountain Soul, Loveless and her husband and producer, Emory Gordy, Jr., display their knowledge of bluegrass and mountain music, filling the tracks with mandolins, dobros, and fiddles, over which Loveless sings fervently in her Kentucky twang. But the songs on Mountain Soul tended to be ones written in the styles in which they were being played, whereas many of the Christmas carols heard here are being adapted to these arrangements. "Silver Bells," for example, isn't even a traditional song, but rather a composition by the Hollywood movie songwriters Jay Livingston and Ray Evans, and "Little Drummer Boy," another ringer, is given perhaps its first arrangement not to feature any drums. Meanwhile, in his pursuit of a mountain sound, Gordy isn't above eliminating his wife, whose name is on the front of the album: "Carol of the Bells" is an instrumental featuring the Nashville Mandolin Ensemble on which Loveless does not perform. The album is better, and sounds more authentic, on country-oriented material such as "Christmas Time's a Comin'" and "Beautiful Star of Bethlehem," and on the three new songs written by Loveless and Gordy, especially the up-tempo "Santa Town" and "Christmas Day at My House," which should have been sequenced earlier on the disc for better balance. So, while effective, the album is not as good as it could have been.
Entertainment Weekly - Chris Willman
One of the most rewarding country Christmases since Emmylou's. (A-)

Product Details

Release Date:
10/29/2002
Label:
Sony
UPC:
0696998596726
catalogNumber:
85967

Tracks

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Patty Loveless   Primary Artist,sleigh bells,Train Whistle
Butch Baldassari   Mandolin
Ricky Skaggs   Mandolin,Background Vocals
Emmylou Harris   Background Vocals
Dolly Parton   Background Vocals
Trisha Yearwood   Background Vocals
Amy Grant   Background Vocals
Steve Gibson   Banjo,Bouzouki,Guitar,Percussion,Mandola
Claire Lynch   Background Vocals
Todd Cerney   Mandolin
Stuart Duncan   Fiddle,Mandolin,Mandocello
Vince Gill   Mandolin,Background Vocals
Emory Gordy   Bass,Guitar
John Hedgecoth   Mandocello
Tim Hensley   Mandolin,Background Vocals
Jim Horn   Recorder
Rob Ickes   Dobro
Van Manakas   Mandolin
Alan O'Bryant   Banjo
Carmella Ramsey   Fiddle,Background Vocals
Deanie Richardson   Fiddle,Mandolin
Bruce Sweetman   Mandolin
Biff Watson   Guitar,Hi String,Guitar (Baritone)
Stephan Dudash   Mandolin
Gene Ford   Guitar
Charlie Derrington   Mandola
Rob Haines   Mandolin
Jon Randall   Mandolin,Background Vocals
Blake Williams   Banjo,Bass
David Spicher   Bass
Butch Lee   Dobro,Percussion,Bass Drums,Bells,Wind Chimes,Glass

Technical Credits

Emory Gordy   Arranger,Producer
Justin Niebank   Engineer
Victoria Russell   Creative Producer
Isaac Watts   Composer
Paul Zonn   Arranger
Lowell Mason   Composer
Nashville Mandolin Ensemble   Arranger
Beth Kindig   Art Direction
Phillip Brooks   Composer
William Sandys   Composer
Traditional   Composer
James R. Murray   Composer
Deb Haus   Art Direction,Artist Development
Lewis Redner   Composer
Mykola Leontovych   Composer

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