Christmas is a stressful, busy time so there is always room for a collection of holiday classics sung in a smooth, no-frills style by a skillful and talented singer like Darius Rucker. On Home for the Holidays, Rucker does not offer anything groundbreaking or unusual, just 10 familiar and beloved Christmas tunes and two originals he wrote that fit right in with the classic holiday formula, “What God Wants for Christmas” and “Candy Cane Christmas.”
You can play this CD at any holiday gathering and be assured that everyone will enjoy it. No one will be displeased by anything on it, from the secular and quite unlikely holiday favorite, “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch,” to those songs we’ve known all our lives, like “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” “Winter Wonderland,” and “White Christmas.” With “Baby, It’s Cold Outside,” on which Rucker is joined by Sheryl Crow, the secular side of the season is well-represented, as is the religious side with the beloved “O Come, All Ye Faithful” and “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing.” Even one of this reviewer’s favorite Christmas songs, “Please Come Home for Christmas,” is present.
As a collection of Christmas favorites, this is a perfectly listenable and pleasant CD. However, for my taste it is just a bit too smooth and predictable. Rucker has had a career in pop with Hootie and the Blowfish and in country as a solo artist, but this offering is pure adult contemporary pop. While Rucker’s voice is beautiful and warm, this has all been done before by Frank Sinatra, Perry Como, Johnny Mathis, and others. Indeed, the versions and the sound here remind me most of Nat King Cole. While that is not a bad thing, it just seems a little unnecessary. Rucker is certainly capable of adding just a bit more soul, a little more edge, or a slightly different arrangement to a few of these songs to make them more individual. He can also certainly write songs that elicit more emotional response. Also, there are many beautiful holiday songs that would suit Rucker’s voice well that have not been recorded so many times. The artist played it very safe this time.
Still, for gift-giving to your more conservative friends and family and for those times when you just want to hear some relaxing music after a busy shopping, decorating and wrapping day, this is a perfectly acceptable and safe choice.
Darius Rucker Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Master Sgt. Val Gempis[amazon template=iframe image&asin=B00NMUCMAG]