december 2008

Toby Keith
Show Dog Nashville
Released: 2006

Two discs totaling 20 Yuletide favorites served up in warm, welcoming fashion defines this most pleasant of holiday treats. Gathering an acoustic band comprised largely of fiddle, mandolin, bass, guitar, piano and, in what amounts to a star turn, Rob Ickes on dobro, Keith kicks back and luxuriates in some festive arrangements offering a fresh spin on the traditional favorites here. "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" is soothing and seductive, thanks to Keith's engaging pop crooning touch. "Frosty the Snowman" gets all dressed up in a rocking western swing arrangement complete with twin fiddles and bopping rhythm attack. Christmas chimes and a cooing background chorus lend a hopeful air to the bluesy urgency Keith brings to his R&B-tinged version of Charles Brown's enduring "Please Come Home for Christmas." Whereas Volume One focuses on secular seasonal songs, Volume Two hails the newborn King, as Keith assays carols from across the ages. Digging into contemporary gospel, he wrecks the house with a righteously declaimed rendition of "Go Tell It On the Mountain"; the ancient "O Come All Ye Faithful" is rendered with all the majestic importuning the lyrics demand, Keith's stentorian tenor rising strong and proud over thundering percussion and plaintive choral singers as Ickes adds a rustic touch with his precisely placed dobro punctuations. This Christmas package concludes (on Volume Two) with an ebullient rendering of "Joy To the World," with drums, fiddle, and chorus adding exactly the proper measure of celebratory attitude to buttress Keith's unabashed exultation in the moment and in the lyrical sentiment he drives home with unflagging commitment. Herein, Toby Keith keeps Christmas well.—David McGee

Founder/Publisher/Editor: David McGee
Contributing Editors: Billy Altman, Derk Richardson
Logo Design: John Mendelsohn (
Website Design: Kieran McGee (
Staff Photographers: Audrey Harrod (Louisville, KY;, Alicia Zappier (New York)
Mailing Address: David McGee, 201 W. 85 St.—5B, New York, NY 10024