Michael Martin Murphey

Acoustic Christmas Carols: Cowboy Christmas II

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Michael Martin Murphey's second Christmas album, subtitled "Cowboy Christmas II," is, as its title declares, a record of carols played on acoustic instruments. The titles all come from the 19th century or earlier, among them such favorites as "Silent Night" and "Joy to the World," and Murphey's arrangements usually feature his own finger-picked guitar, frequently accompanied by John McEuen on banjo or mandolin, or Paul Sadler on hammer dulcimer, over which he sings solemnly in his slightly wheezy tenor. Things get a bit livelier when Murphey's sons Ryan and Brennan trade blues guitar licks on "Go Tell It on the Mountain" and when daughter Laura duets on "Silent Night." But this is a spare and reverent Christmas album, appropriate for a rustic celebration in a Western church.

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