Picks and Pans Review: Ricky Van Shelton Sings Christmas

updated 12/11/1989 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 12/11/1989 AT 01:00 AM EST

Ricky Van Shelton

Elvis is still hard to beat for country-inflected Christmas songs, but these two mellow-voiced Nashvillians bring a little variety to the package-wrapping background-music department.

Morris, of course, is only a Nashvillian in passing. His disciplined tenor can get as mainstream as they come, and on this often austere album—some songs are just Morris and an acoustic guitar—he takes it right down the middle in an all-traditional 10-track set. His evocative "Silver Bells" would sound very nice after playing the appealing but less musical version by Bob Hope.

Fair-haired-boy-come-lately Van Shelton performs some standards too, but the best parts of his album are the less familiar "Please Come Home for Christmas," by Gene Redd and Charles Brown, and Van Shelton and Don Schlitz's "Christmas Long Ago," which features an engaging mandolin fill by Steve Gibson. (Morris: Universal; Van Shelton: Columbia)

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