CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- If department stores can supplant my favorite holiday with "Black Thursday" sales, I imagine it's acceptable to review a few Christmas CDs on turkey day -- against my better judgment, of course.
"A Winter's Tale"
Billed as "Christmas music with deep roots in Appalachian and Piedmont music," this disc features a six-song winter's tale written by Polecat Creek singer Laurelyn Dossett and commissioned by the North Carolina Symphony. She's joined by Carolina Chocolate Drops singer Rhiannon Giddens and mandolinist Mike Compton as well as bass player Jason Sypher and banjo player Joe Newberry (who also contributes a pair of original tracks).
Fleshing out Dossett's song cycle are seven folk-bluegrass-based Christmas songs by the likes of Bill Monroe and John Hartford. The songs are entirely acoustic and tracks like "Lights in the Lowlands" and Monroe's instrumental "Old Ebenezer Scrooge" have an easy-going and organic feel that you can warm to on first listen.
The five-minute "Redbird," one of the disc's standouts, takes a cue from the Chocolate Drops' style of dance hall string band. The group's take on Hartford's "On Christmas Eve" is another gem, and the traditional "Christ Was Born on Christmas Morn" is a gentle toe tapper.
"Christmas With Karling"
White Trash Records