Ever since she released A Christmas Album back in 1983, Christmas albums have been a regular thing for Amy Grant, arriving either in the form of new studio albums or compilation albums. All these comps tend to obscure the fact that Grant hasn't recorded a brand-new holiday album since 1999's A Christmas to Remember, so 2016's Tennessee Christmas is something of an event in its very appearance, but it also is quite different in tenor and character than Grant's previous holiday albums. Some of that can be inferred from the title itself: although it doesn't explicitly say that this is an intimate Christmas, it does imply this is a homey holiday. Indeed, it was recorded at Grant's home studio -- and there are cameos by her guitarist husband Vince Gill -- and the end result is an album that feels as cozy as a night in by the fireplace. The nice thing about Tennessee Christmas is that it acknowledges that those snowy evenings can sometimes have a sad undercurrent, a feeling that surfaces on "Melancholy Christmas" -- but this, when surrounded by a jazzy "White Christmas," the lightly skipping "Christmas for You and Me," and a cover of the Chipmunks' "Christmas Don't Be Late," ultimately feels comforting and reassuring. Furthermore, the intimate warmth of Tennessee Christmas makes it feel different than Grant's previous holiday albums, which tended to be clean and gleaming: it's a matter of taste which is better, but it's nice to have Grant return with a holiday album that is utterly distinctive than the many that came before it. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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