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Music Review: Pam Tillis – Just In Time For Christmas

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As we continue to shine the spotlight big and bright on holiday music, this week we look toward a collection of songs with a down home flavor from one of the leading ladies of country music. Pam Tillis' Just in Time For Christmas is a mix of well-loved standards and lesser-known songs of Christmas.

For the most part, this album stays on the secular side of the holiday and only breaches to the traditional Christian hymns for one medley of songs and the additional "Light of the World," which while not a hymn has a Christian theme. Sandwiched between two time-honored classics, "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" and "I'll Be Home For Christmas", are a couple of songs that might be unfamiliar. "Seasons" and "Light of the World" both have a strong country flavor in tone and tempo as well as the instrumentation, which relies on fiddle and mandolin.

The highlight of the album is the "Rockin' Christmas Medley," a duet with her beloved father, Mel Tillis. Even with the mention of rock in the title, there is no mistaking the song for anything but country. A medley of "Jingle Bell Rock" and "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree," it is delivered with a two-step beat and traditional country sound. Not only do the songs fit well, but the vocal combination of father and daughter is a real treat.

There is a second medley on the disc, the aforementioned "Silent Night Medley" which blends "I Wonder as I Wander," "Silent Night," and "Away in a Manger." More spiritual than the rockin', it still has that down home flavor while staying true to the traditional Christian roots of these classic carols. The arrangement is interesting and seamlessly ties the songs together into one.

On the liner notes of the album Pam writes, "You put them [Christmas songs] on when you cook for company, while you trim the tree, while you're wrapping presents, while you look through old photo albums with old friends that you see once in a blue moon. Classic Christmas songs are the little covered bridges to the past and new Christmas songs should fall as easy on the ear as soft, morning snow."

If that was her goal for the album it is surely accomplished. This album is perfect atmosphere music for those whose ear leans toward classic country.

Produced by Pam Tillis and Matt Spicher, Just in Time for Christmas is on Tillis' Stellar Cat Records label. It was released November 13 and is quite reminiscent of Rhinestoned released earlier this year. News and information on Pam Tillis and Just in Time for Christmas can be found at her official website and her myspace profile.

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