Modern-day country traditionalist Julie Roberts has a special gift for her fans this year -- a brand new Christmas EP released today (Tuesday, Nov. 1). Halloween has come and gone, and there's no such thing as Thanksgiving music, right? It's time to get in the holiday spirit with Roberts' festive 7-song collection, "Who Needs Mistletoe."
I like to think of myself as a Christmas music connoisseur. I have more holiday music on my iPod than any other genre (aside from country, of course). I'm not into poppy remakes and modernization of the classics. I prefer Bing Crosby's version of "White Christmas" opposed to Taylor Swift's, and no one can pull off "Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer" quite like Burl Ives. But when I listened to Julie Roberts' holiday collection for the first time, I felt like I had gone back in time. It was weird; I actually felt that if I closed my eyes, I was sitting at a Christmas concert in the Ryman Auditorium in the 1960s. One thing I've always loved about Roberts is her understanding and appreciation for traditional country music. Recording a Christmas record didn't seem to change the album-making process for her at all. I could still feel the roots of classic country radiating through the speakers as I listened.
Elvis Presley's rendition of "Blue Christmas" has been my favorite since I was a little girl, and no version of anyone's has lived up to it yet…until now. The bluesy tone to Roberts' voice is so good that it hurts. There isn't a more perfect song for that girl to sing. The vocals are soulful, real, and just plain good. Another one that really stands out for me is "Away in a Manger," in which she seems to have channeled her inner Tammy Wynette. The instrumentals are simple, yet precise, and allows the listener to really focus on the meaning of the song. Julie has one of those great story-teller singing voices, and that was really able to be showcased on this song.
Originally recorded by Roy Orbison and written by Willie Nelson, "Pretty Paper" continues to be a popular cover song that country artists like to put on their Christmas records, but I don't think any other rendition thus far has been able to hold a candle to it; however, Julie Roberts gives Orbison and Nelson a little long-awaited competition. The EP's title track, "Who Needs Mistletoe," is the lone original song of the collection. Apparently Roberts has a thing for Santa Claus…or at least the guy wearing the Santa suit around her house. "Who needs mistletoe? I'd rather be under you." Oh my, Miss Roberts! Hey, at least she's honest.
Then there are tracks like "O Holy Night," "I'll Be Home For Christmas," and "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" that are so beautiful in their original format that Julie decided not to mess with 'em. She kept it classic and traditional, which I absolutely love. Some things just aren't meant to be changed.
We've got a timeless Christmas album on our hands, folks. But what else would you expect from one of country music's last true traditionalists? The album is available TODAY, so make sure you get it. It's available digitally via online retailers such as iTunes and Amazon, but hard copies will also be available on CDBaby, as well as on her official web site where she will personally autograph it just for you. I would highly recommend that. While you're there, check out what else she's been up to this year. She's a busy girl! I predict lots of great things in store for Julie in 2012.
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