december 2011

Patty Loveless
Released: 2002

An album perfectly realized in all aspects, Bluegrass & White Snow (subtitled A Mountain Christmas) features Patty Loveless' earthy mountain voice at its heart-rending best, framed by exquisite acoustic arrangements heavy on fiddles, guitars and mandolins, tasty ensemble musicianship, and a selection of songs—evergreens and a couple of touching originals penned by Loveless and her producer/husband Emory Gordy Jr.—seemingly chosen specifically to evoke the spiritual underpinnings of the season more than its celebratory aspects. Stately, austere bluegrass renditions of "Away In the Manger," "Joy To the World," "The First Noel," "O Little Town of Bethlehem" and "Little Drummer Boy" emphasize the introspective nature of the approach here, but that's not to say merriment is lacking. The Nashville Mandolin Ensemble spices up the proceedings with a joyous instrumental rendition of "Carol Of the Bells," and Loveless' buoyant reading of "Christmas Time's a Comin'" brooks favorable comparison to Bill Monroe's and Emmylou Harris' timeless interpretations of Tex Logan's jubilant celebration of homecoming. Banjo and twin fiddles spark a toe-tapping account of "Christmas Day At My House," a Loveless-Gordy original, and Ricky Skaggs (on mandolin and background vocals) and Dolly Parton (background vocals) beautifully support Loveless' keening vocal on the album closing title track, also from the Loveless-Gordy stable, which offers a poignant but upbeat recollection of Christmas in the bluegrass country. Pure of heart. simple and true in its aims, Bluegrass & White Snow ranks with the finest Christmas albums in any genre. —David McGee

Patty Loveless’s Bluegrass & White Snow is available at

Founder/Publisher/Editor: David McGee
Contributing Editors: Billy Altman, Laura Fissinger, Christopher Hill, 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