Prime Cuts: Mary Had a Little Lamb, Silver Bells, White Christmas
T. Graham Brown celebrates a few firsts this year in 2015. Despite having recorded 14 albums, scored 3 #1 hits, 8 Top 10 hits, and more than 20 charted singles, 2015 marks the first time ever Brown received a Grammy Award nomination. Earlier in year, Brown was nominated for Grammy's Best Gospel Roots album for his Gospel project "Forever Changed." A few months later, it was announced was recording his first ever Christmas album. Finally, his career first Christmas album is upon us. Just like all his previous 13 albums, Brown's vocals are always a highlight. No one in any genre of music has that unmistakable gravel voice of his. When he rocks, he rips and roars. And when he croons a ballad, there's a bluesy gravitas that resonate so much with our souls; a fleet few singers can achieve. Again on "Christmas with T. Graham Brown," the "Hell and High Water" singer doesn't fail to impress.
Released by Mansion Entertainment and distributed by Sony RED Distribution, this project was produced by T. Graham Brown and Tony Griffith. "Christmas with T. Graham Brown" features 11 tracks, 9 of which are traditional Christmas songs while the remaining 2 are brand new originals. Naturally, our attention gravitates first to the two originals. "Mary Had a Little Lamb," isn't the children's nursery rhyme, rather it is a brand new ballad written by Statler Brother's Jimmy Fortune with Brown and his wife Sheila Brown. "Mary Had a Little Lamb," is quite an exquisitely written ballad that details how baby Jesus is more than a mere babe but he is in fat the sacrificial Lamb of God. The Gospel has never been so eloquently and melodiously depicted than on this touching and well-written ballad; one that really invites soloists in churches to consider for the Christmas season.
The other original is quite the other extreme. "Santa Claus is Coming in a UFO" is more a novelty piece that rings with lots of laughter and fun. What makes "Santa" unique is that it is a family effort co-written by Brown with his wife Sheila and their son Acme. Without now the restrictions of country radio, Brown is more at ease with himself these days when he sings. Thus, instead of domesticating these Christmas songs into the narrow confines of any genre, each song takes a form and life of its own. Brown does a rock n' roll rendition of "Run Run Ruldoph," while he does a dreamy sentimental take of "Silver Bells." Almost like stepping into one of those romantic movies of yore is Brown's take of "White Christmas." Fans who adore Brown's earlier countrier material may love "Have Yourself a Merry Christmas," which is done on a country ¾ waltzy pace. And those who like some frolicking fun will enjoy "Here Comes Santa Claus."
Brown certainly sounds at ease with "Christmas with T. Graham Brown." He takes his time and effort to incarnate into his songs and it shows. This Christmas effort may be his first, but one guesses that with an effort this good, it won't be his last either.