Alvin Crow and Asleep at the Wheel

Texas Christmas for You and Me, and Lone Star Christmas Night (Bismeaux)

Texas Platters

Alvin Crow

Texas Christmas for You and Me

Asleep at the Wheel

Lone Star Christmas Night (Bismeaux)

The gold standard of Texas country Christmas albums remains Dale Watson's 2001 disc Christmas Time in Texas. Two new efforts from similarly revered C&W Austinites vie for the same relevancy beyond songs worn threadbare by repeat spins and uninspired arrangements. Alvin Crow fiddles about in his trad style and the occasional sax solo on newer material like the wholly original "Texas Christmas Rhumba" and bittersweet waltz "Merry Texas Christmas Blue." Both mix with a passel of standards – "Silent Night," "Pretty Paper," "White Christmas," and others – but a second disc cuts personal for Crow. A solemn reading of yuletide poem "The Cremation of Sam McGee" revives a holiday tradition of his father at family gatherings. For their second Christmas effort, Ray Benson's Western swing juggernaut of the past half-century veers even further off the beaten path, thoroughly in the spirit of the season nonetheless and whipping rhythm like mad. There are slightly goofy takes on "Feliz Navidad" and "Blue Christmas," but twin fiddles burn bright on "Merry Texas Christmas Y'all" and instrumental "Deck the Halls Boogie!" spotlights newer members of the band including pianist Connor Forsyth. Infectious holiday hootenannies.

(Alvin Crow) ***

(Asleep at the Wheel) ***.5

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Alvin Crow, Asleep at the Wheel

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