Country Music Roundup: It’s Christmas in October

This Week’s News

If you’re one of those heathens who starts getting ready for Christmas the day after Halloween, then this news might interest you. It seems that every country artist has to make a Christmas album at some point (even Billy Gilman has one). But this year, the country Christmas elves/record execs decided that country music fans needed more holiday cheer than usual— nine artists are releasing holiday albums between September and November.

Kacey Musgraves Christmas

The first of of the batch, Reba McEntire’s “My Kind of Christmas,” was announced in July and released last month exclusively to Cracker Barrel restaurants.

And now, Chris Young’s “It Must be Christmas” was released Oct. 14. It features two originals (“Under the Weather” and the title cut), as well as some covers of modern country Christmas classics like “There’s A New Kid In Town” and Brad Paisley’s version of “The First Noel.”

Reviews of the new album have been mostly positive for the chart-topper, who’s nominated for “Musical Event of the Year” with Cassadee Pope at this November’s CMAs.

Next up on the Christmas list is Rascal Flatts, who will release their first Christmas album, “The Greatest Gift of All,” on Oct. 21. The album is all covers of classic songs like “Silent Night” and “Go Tell It On The Mountain.”

Also on Oct. 21, The Oak Ridge Boys’ seventh Christmas album, “Celebrate Christmas,” will be released in advance of their 27th annual Christmas tour, dubbed “The Christmas Celebration Tour” for this year. The tour runs from Nov. 1—Dec. 22.

Then, on Oct. 28, hang on to your wallets, because that’s when three country Christmas albums will land under the tree (that hopefully hasn’t been set up yet):

  • Kacey Musgraves’ “A Very Kacey Christmas”
  • Jennifer Nettles’ “To Celebrate Christmas”
  • Brett Eldredge’s “Glow”

This year will be the first year for Christmas albums for all three of the above artists, although Nettles has released Christmas albums with her group Sugarland in the past and has been the host of the “CMA Country Christmas special since 2010.

Musgraves’ album will feature new original collaborations with Leon Bridges and (who else?) Willie Nelson, while Eldredge has promised more of a “big band” feel.

Topping the holiday season off on November 11 will be the release of Garth Brooks and wife Trisha Yearwood’s first Christmas duet album, “Christmas Together.” The two have both released Christmas albums separately before, but never on the same record.

 

This Week’s Best New Song

Brad Paisley follows up his pop-country debut single from his as-yet-untitled 11th studio album with a  return to form. That is, he’s singing about sentimental adult topics, with real instrumentation. The music video may indulge a bit too much with the tear-jerking moments, but the song, about how the memory of certain days will stick with you forever, is a welcome refresher from most of what’s on the radio now.

 

This Week’s Worst New Song

Garth Brooks is back, and he’s trying to run with the young ‘uns, and it’s clear he’s not cut out for it any more. Brooks may still be the second-highest earner in the country music world from his lucrative touring, exclusive Wal-Mart deals and refusal to stream any of his music, but his new song finds him chasing a trend that’s on its way out and is as ill-fitting as his Chris Gaines persona.

“Baby, Let’s Lay Down and Dance” sounds like Brooks’ far superior “Wrapped Up In You” if Brett Eldredge or Thomas Rhett got a hold of it. It’s fits their style, but not for the man who gave us “Papa Loved Mama.” My web desk colleague Maribel Molina points out that Brooks’ best songs are his story songs, like “Papa Loved Mama,” “Rodeo” and “The Thunder Rolls,” and I agree. Even “She’s Tired of Boys,” “Mom” and  “Rodeo and Juliet,” the cornier story songs on Brooks’ last album “Man Against Machine,” were the best cuts from that record. Hopefully the rest of the upcoming album isn’t as derivative.

 

This Week’s Best Country Show in Austin

John Michael Montgomery and Deana Carter will be at the Nutty Brown Cafe this Friday, Oct. 21. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. and tickets can be found here.

This is the Country Music Roundup, a weekly blog where we’ll give you the latest news in country music releases and local country shows. For a more in-depth analysis of the genre and where it’s headed, check back with our weekly Gone Country blog every week.

Questions, comments, suggestions? Let me know on Twitter @jakeharris4 or by email: jharris@statesman.com.

 

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