Various Artists

Christmas Angels [Capitol]

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Capitol Records Nashville opts for an all-female Christmas collection as a means of promoting some of its top distaff country singers (Jamie O'Neal, Deana Carter, Suzy Bogguss, and Tanya Tucker) as well as newcomers like Amber Dotson, who leads things off with a credible version of "Blue Christmas." O'Neal follows with what the press release describes as "a new powerhouse version of 'O Holy Night.'" One should perhaps stop right there and consider whether the world is in need of a new powerhouse version of "O Holy Night." It turns out that what that means is that O'Neal's singing is overdone; she can't seem to stop her throat from emitting needless ejaculations, even during the instrumental passages and when the song is winding down, doing neither herself or the song any good. But that showboating actually helps Jennifer Hanson's comparatively understated "I'll Be Home for Christmas," which follows, work all the better in comparison. Elsewhere, Bethany Dillon sings "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" in an uncomfortably seductive whisper, and Alison Krauss, not a Capitol artist, is roped in for her always welcome romantic plea to Santa, "Shimmy Down the Chimney (Fill Up My Stocking)." It's a girls' night in around the Christmas tree in Nashville, and most of it is fun, even if some of these angels sound like the honky tonk variety.

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