Slack Key Christmas is a bit of a schtick album in its conception, mixing a small dose of exoticism with the strong standards of the Christmas repertoire. Hawaiian music may not be the exotica it once was, but when paired with ultra-traditional holiday songs, it gains back a bit of novelty as a medium. The slack key artists here are some of the best around, and though a few of the big hitters are missing (the Pahinui family, the Beamers), the players present are a veritable all-star group from the Palm label. The ki hoalu manner of playing lends itself to the more contemplative moods of pieces such as "I'll Be Home for Christmas," and at the same time can be used for a rollicking little romp (with its own bass accompaniment, of course) for the quicker, cheerier numbers. Highlights include Wailau Ryder's rendition of "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" and the incomparable Sonny Lim's "White Christmas," both of which showcase different aspects of the slack key's versatility and sheer musicality when placed in the hands of the greats.