It would be hard to cut a Christmas record that were anything but harmonious and beautiful and it is especially not the case here. The same could be said about Sweet Cecelia cutting a record: It is going to be pretty and harmonious. Here, the traditional country tinged trio applies their style to holiday favorites. The result is simple but rich songs — like the old country high and lonesome sound of “Blue Christmas” — that are pared down to just guitar, mandolin and minimal percussion.
The Andrews Sisters’ version of “Jingle Bells” gets a little holiday facelift and rockabilly guitar licks that manages to leave in its playful quirk and catchiness. “In a Manger” kicks off with the three singing a capella and has breathtaking results.
“Sing Praises to the Lord” shows off the guitar skills and vocals of Maegan Berard as she covers one of Al’s compositions. Likewise, “The Lord is Here,” is another new one from Al, but is an instant classic with its hallelujah chorus.
As a holiday CD, Sweet Christmas has a shelf life like egg nog. It won’t be played much in a month, but with its stellar harmonies it is sure to be a December favorite year after year … just without the impact to your waistline.