No matter what genre of music it is, holiday albums tend to fall into one of two categories. They’re either a collection of holiday standards, or all original material specifically focused on the celebratory and biblical significance of the season. Hometown Holiday from Darin & Brooke Aldridge is evenly split between the two categories.
The opening track Who Do You Think? by Don and Harold Reid of the Statler Brothers, is a compelling song about the birth of Jesus. Along with beautiful lead vocals from Brooke Aldridge, this track also features great backing from her husband, Darin on mandolin and harmony vocals, Samantha Snyder on fiddle, Cody Kilby on guitar, and Mark Fain on bass.
It Wasn’t His Child and Breath of Heaven (Mary’s Song) also talks about Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem, but from different angles. The former track by Skip Ewing focuses on Christ being the son of God and features great dobro playing from Jacob Metz. The latter by Amy Grant and Chris Eaton, gives Mary’s perspective on this monumental event. Both songs feature Darin and Brooke along with Snyder, David Rhyne on piano, Tim Surrett on bass, and Tony Creasman on percussion.
Do You Hear What I Hear? by Noel Regney is a holiday classic that’s been recorded by numerous artists over the years. Darin’s performance on this song, both vocally and instrumentally on his bouzouki is captivating.
There’s several really fun tracks on this album. With Bells On by Dolly Parton is one of them, as is the instrumental rendering of The Chipmunk Song (Christmas Don’t Be Late) and Must Be Santa. The most interesting by far is Little Saint Nick originally recorded by the Beach Boys in 1963. This track combines the distinctive vocal style of the legendary band alongside acoustic instrumentation. It’s a neat adaptation. This track also features Darin and Brooke’s touring band which consists of Samantha Snyder on fiddle, Jacob Metz on dobro, and Billy Gee on bass.
Christmas Time Back Home should be familiar to bluegrass fans as it was first recorded by the Country Gentlemen. Written by John Duffey and Anne Hill Streeter, this is the sole bluegrass song on the recording. This is evidenced by Jacob Metz’s banjo work, which only appears on this one track.
The ultimate highlight of this recording is the bonus track of all things. Light of the Stable was the title song of Emmylou Harris’ first holiday album released in 1979. The performance here is absolutely breathtaking with Darin and Brooke handling all the vocals. This track also features Stuart Duncan on fiddle and Mark Fain on bass.
Hometown Holiday is a solid offering for this holiday season. It’s a blend of new and old songs centered around festive and religious tradition. It’s exactly what a holiday album should be.
You can check out all the Christmas bluegrass we have covered at Bluegrass Today by following this link.