Album Review: Reba’s ‘My Kind Of Christmas’

Reba McEntire has been a recording artist for forty years now. With that amount of time, it’s understandable that the singer would want to visit some of her favorite holiday sounds. She did so for the first time in 1987 with Merry Christmas To You, then a dozen years later, she returned to record stores with The Secret of Giving. And, now – almost two decades later, McEntire returns to record stores with an album that defines the word “intimate.”

I say that because one of the main differences between the first two albums and this one is that My Kind Of Christmas – available exclusively at Cracker Barrel Old Country Store – is completely acoustic in its’ approach, allowing for a more simpler sound – especially compared to 1999’s The Secret of Giving, which featured very lush and elaborate arrangements.

As far as the song material goes, the Country Music Hall of Fame member keeps things very much pointed toward the classics. Songs like “Winter Wonderland,” ‘The Christmas Song,” and “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town” glisten with a major splash of holiday cheer, while she tips the hat to Brenda Lee on a fun version of “Jingle Bell Rock.” Then, McEntire adds just the right amount of heart and emotion on such soaring classics as the spiritual “O Holy Night” and “Silent Night.” But, perhaps the most stirring vocal from Reba here comes on her cover of “Hard Candy Christmas.” Originally written by Carol Hall, the song became a top ten hit for Dolly Parton in 1982 as a result of its’ exposure in the film The Best Little Whorehouse In Texas. Reba gives a performance on the song that is strong and powerful enough to make Parton herself brim with pride.

All in all, this might very well be one of the top Yuletide packages of the 2016 season – of which there are many. Reba seems to be very much at home in this intimate setting, and the winners are the listeners, who get to hear a different side of the legendary songstress.