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Good News ()

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Kathy Mattea's album for the Christmas season is unlike any country Christmas record ever released. For starters, she and producer Brent Maher commissioned original songs rather than taking them from the canon, or adapted obscure songs from the ages. Secondly, the band was formed around what served each song to make it feel as organic as possible. Strange instruments appear, such as the marimbas on "New Kid in Town," recorders and a high string guitar and recorders on "Christ Child Lullaby" (courtesy of Dougie MacLean and Jim Horn), and a full choir on the closing title track. This doesn't feel like any Christmas record you've ever heard before, either. It sounds like a well-crafted, gorgeously wrought folk/country/Celtic-flavored Kathy Mattea record. Give a listen to any of the above, or especially the haunted traditional song "Brightest and Best," completely reworked by Mattea and Maher. The guitars caress the open space between themselves and Mattea's voice, as the pipes and recorders float within. Likewise, listen to "Mary Did You Know," which is one of the most stunningly beautiful Christian folk songs written in decades (by Mark Lowry and Buddy Greene). But then, while songs can be many things, they cannot be given life without a singer, and on Good News, in Mattea's instrument, the grains of truth add up to something incalculable: high art. ~ Thom Jurek, Rovi Hide synopsis

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