Father Christmas (2001)
Along with hit singles and Fan Fair appearances, Christmas albums are one of the requirements for a successful career in major-label country music. Even artists with only one CD behind them are often compelled to make the second a collection of holiday favorites. Deana Carter's the exception that proves the rule. On the punningly titled Father Christmas (dad Fred, a veteran Nashville session man whose resumé includes Bridge over Troubled Water and work with Dylan and Waylon Jennings, is her sole accompanist here), the one-time multimillion seller for Capitol uses the form to reintroduce herself on an indie.
Carter's voice, both smoky and innocent-sounding, impossible to listen to without feeling the need to have your back scratched right now, brings these mostly familiar songs a dimension of personality that's often lost on more cookie-cutter releases. The space given her father's wide-ranging talents reflects a sense of true collaboration. His pithy, Willie-style solo on "Merry Christmas Darling" is a small gem, and his bluesy intro to "Silent Night" takes the melody into a distinctly new realm. Father Christmas isn't as filling as a set of new Carter songs would've been, but it's a good sign of her continuing vitality as a performing force. --Rickey WrightPlay MusicPurchase CD