Album Review: Jennifer Nettles, To Celebrate Christmas

Jennifer Nettles
To Celebrate Christmas


Jennifer Nettles is known for her exaggerated phrasing, and it works quite well with many of these songs that call for soulful vocals.

This includes exuberant versions of “Go Tell it On the Mountain” and “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen,” along with more contemplative songs, such as “O Holy Night” and the Dolly Parton composition, “Circle of Love.”

Aside from a couple of pop-infused missteps, To Celebrate Christmas is a nice blend of joyfulness and reverence.

Recommended Tracks: “Go Tell it On the Mountain,” “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen,” “Circle of Love”

Versions of these capsule Christmas album reviews will also appear in the Christmas edition of Country Style Magazine.



  1. My wife loves Christmas music (she bought 6 new Christmas cds) and I do to a lesser degree. We’ve been playing Christmas cd’s for over a week now. We both are Nettles fans but after listening to the i-tunes preview we decided that this album has too many missteps so we passed. One of the missteps was including The Little Drummer Boy. We know it’s been recorded many times and it’s still for us the most annoying of all the frequently recorded Christmas songs. When I hear all the pum pum pums I go numb numb numb.

  2. This is by far my favorite of all of the recent Christmas album releases. The reasons I love it so much are:

    1. I love Nettles’ voice
    2. The majority of the songs reference the birth of Christ
    3. It contains my favorite Christmas song Do You Hear What I Hear.

    My only complaint is that I wish it was longer with more songs. Great cd.

  3. to answer Leeann, I like:
    Christmas – John Berry (I have his 1995 & 2000 Christmas albums O Holy Night & My Heart Is Bethlehem.)
    It Must Be Christmas – Chris Young
    Unto Us – Matthew West
    Glow – Brett Eldredge

    The new Berry album includes new recordings of O Holy Night and My Heart is Bethlehem – which is fine with me. (For Christmas songs, my favorite artists are John Berry and Suzy Bogguss.)

    The beautiful lyrics and music penned by Michael Peterson make “My Heart Is Bethlehem” one of the best Christmas songs ever IMHO. I read that John first heard the song at a songwriter’s retreat. Michael Peterson played it for John and he was hooked. (Mr. Peterson is also a fine singer who had #1 country hits with “From Here to Eternity” and “Drink, Swear, Steal and Lie”, both of which he co-wrote.) Here’s part of the lyric:

    “My heart is Bethlehem
    I will make room for him.
    This humble dwelling place
    Made worthy by his grace.

    This child is still adored,
    Because he still is born
    Deep in the hearts of men,
    (To love and not condemn)
    My heart is Bethlehem”

    Checking i-tunes I found only 2 other artists who have covered the song – Julie LaMeng and East Valley Chorale.

  4. Bob,
    I like John Berry’s Christmas music, though his first Christmas album is my favorite. I’m also familiar with Michael Peterson, though my favorite song is “Love’s Great (When You’re Not In It).

  5. Going ahead and inserting myself into the conversation.

    My favorite Christmas albums are:

    Kathy Mattea, Joy For Christmas Day
    SHeDaisy, Brand New Year
    Alan Jackson, Honky Tonk Christmas

    and the obligatory non-country entry:
    Annie Lennox, A Christmas Cornucopia

    And favorite Christmas songs:
    Trisha Yearwood, “It Wasn’t His Child”
    Pam Tillis, “Light of the World”
    Dolly Parton, “Hard Candy Christmas”
    Toby Keith, “Santa I’m Right Here”
    Sammy Kershaw, “Christmas Time’s a-Comin'”

    and the obligatory non-country entry:
    John Lennon, “Happy Xmas (War is Over)”

  6. Kevin,
    I’d have to fall back to Skip Ewing’s version of “It Wasn’t His Child” which I remember receiving in red vinyl back when I was on the air in Aspen.
    Of the new stuff, I’m finally getting to like “A Very Kacey Christmas” while “Glow” is a great album.
    In the non-Country new albums: Try “Acoustic Christmas” by Neil Diamond
    My classic picks would be Elvis, Michael W. Smith, THE TRACTORS and George Strait
    Non-Country classic: Josh Groban, Jim Brickman

  7. I’ve adored Trisha Yearwood’s recording of “It Wasn’t His Child” since I was exposed to the video, via CMT, in the 1990s. I finally purchased The Sweetest Gift a couple of years ago and her version of “There’s A New Kid In Town” blew me away. One of her finest and classiest ballad performances to date. Next to Keith Whitley’s original, it’s the definitive version of the song.

  8. I knew Ewing because he played the clubs out west in Colorado. He wrote the song as part of a follow-up to his “Coast of Colorado” album and just put this Christmas song on the end of the otherwise-country “The Will to Live” in 1989. I thought the red vinyl was pretty cool and played the heck out of it on the AM station out of Rifle. Morning man always beat the snow plow on the road to work.
    One other point I forgot: My still favorite all-time Christmas song, Emmylou Harris – Light of the Stable.

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