Those who have access to the RFD network have undoubtedly seen Dailey & Vincent’s weekly half-hour show. Those who have not seen the show nor seen the dynamic duo in person probably think of the duo as a bluegrass act but they are far more than that.
Yes, both Jamie Dailey & Darrin Vincent “D & V”) have bona fide bluegrass credentials. Dailey spent a decade as y the lead vocalist and guitarist for Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver from 1999-2008. Darrin Vincent was a musician with Ricky Skaggs’ legendary band Kentucky Thunder and was also part of the famous bluegrass family group The Sally Mountain Show with his sister Rhonda Vincent. Rhonda, of course, is the Queen of Bluegrass having won numerous IBMA and SPBMA awards including seven Entertainer of the Year awards between the two organizations.
Bluegrass they may be, but Gale Mayes, Angie Primm, Aaron McCune, and Josh Cobb are far more than that, having absorbed many other forms of music into their collective souls. They have assembled a cast of excellent musicians and can field several variants of a vocal quartet, including a group that can easily replicate the sound of the legendary Statler Brothers.
The album opens with “Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree” which features some excellent saxophone and honors the rocking spirit of Brenda Lee’s original recording from 1958. Johnny Marks wrote the song. Jamie Dailey takes the lead on this number.
“Mary Did You Know”, written by Christian humorist Mark Lowry has become a Christmas classic since its first appearance in 1991. This may be the best version I have heard of the song. I think that Darrin takes the lead on this song.
“Road To Bethlehem” features Dolly Parton singing harmony and taking the lead on the second verse. Jimmy Fortunate and Jeff Bates wrote this mid-tempo ballad.
“Go Thee Down” is a nice ballad about the first persons to see the Christ child
“Let It Snow” is an old warhorse from the pens of Frank Sinatra’s favorite tunesmiths Sammy Kahn & Jule Styne. Although not specifically a Christmas song, this fan favorite, first recorded by Vaughn Monroe in 1945 reached #1 in January 1946 and has been associated with the holidays since then. Dailey and Vincent give the song an upbeat jazzy interpretation with brass and full orchestration.
“The Spirit of Christmas is typically associated with Ray Charles. Dailey & Vincent give it a straight-ahead treatment (there is no point trying to be more soulful than Ray Charles) and succeed nicely
Christmas is the time of year
For being with the one’s we love
Sharing so much joy and cheer
What a wonderful feeling
Watching the one’s we love
Having so much fun
I was sitting by the fire side
Taking a walk through the snow
Listening to a children’s choir
Singing songs about Jesus
The blessed way that he came to us
Why can’t it remain
“The Carol of the Bells” is usually cast as an instrumental so it is interesting to hear it performed as a vocal ensemble. “It’s a Very Merry Christmas: is a rather bland generic song that serves as a placeholder for the humorous and jazzy “Mr. Grinch”
“Mr. Grinch” was featured in the television special How The Grinch Stole Christmas that originally aired in 1966 and featured the legendary Boris Karloff as the voice of the Grinch. Thurl Ravenscroft was the actual singer (best known as the voice of Tony The Tiger in the Kelloggs commercials) on the soundtrack. I’m not sure that anyone could actually equal Ravenscroft, but it is fun to hear the song again.
“Frosty The Snowman” is another upbeat Christmas classic. Written by Walter “Jack” Rollins and Steve Nelson, the song was first performed by Gene Autry in 1950. I prefer Autry’s version, but D & V do a nice job with the song.
Next up is a medley of traditional Christmas carols consisting of “Hark The Herald Angels Sing”, “It Came Upon A Midnight Clear” and “Joy To The World” This medley is performed as a vocal quartet and sounds much the way I recall the Statler Brothers performing such tunes – very nice indeed.
It is hard to mess up “Jingle Bells” and D&V do a nice job with the song giving a Statler-esque spin to the number.
“Little Town of Bethlehem” is a standard carol that D&V treat respectfully. Piano is the dominant instrument on the track.
The album closes with a rocking Southern gospel rendition of “Go Tell It On The Mountain with bass singer Aaron McCune leading the way.
The additional vocalists on this album include Gale Mayes, Angie Primm, Aaron McCune, and Josh Cobb.
While there are some acoustic instruments on this album, dobro, mandolin, and banjo are not among them, so this album truly cannot be classified as bluegrass. I am a bit annoyed that nowhere on the disc or the packaging is the songwriters listed. If I have left the songwriter unidentified, it is because I could not find the information elsewhere
The review for this album is in accordance with how most will hear this album. Those lucky enough to purchase this at Cracker Barrel Restaurants will find two bonus tracks mixed within the album. “Silver Bells” is a fairly standard quartette treatment of an old Christmas favorite. “Tonight It’s Christmas” features Ricky Skaggs originally surfaced on Alabama’s album Christmas. It is a very nice track that should be more widely known:
The factories are all shut down and the shopping malls are all closed
And the busy streets are all empty except for the falling snow
And in the small towns, in the cities families gather as one
‘Cause the night of love and sharing they look forward to has come
’cause tonight is Christmas, tonight is love
Tonight we celebrate god’s one and only son
Tonight there’s hope for peace on earth eternally
Tonight is Christmas and the world’s in harmony
But across the seas two armies stare down at each other’s guns
Each believing in their cause enough to die or kill the other one
But tonight there’ll be no shooting, not a drop of blood will spill
They will cease their fire this silent night in the name of peace and goodwill
Sounds of Christmas defies categorization by genre – it is simply a great Christmas album, There is nothing new or revolutionary about the album, but it is excellent and I I like this album a lot. While it is not bluegrass and not necessarily country on every track, my tastes in Christmas music tend toward the very traditional and toward the religious meaning of the holiday. This album fits the bill completely.