Various Artists

Christmas Grass, Vol. 3

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Holiday collections are a record label perennial, including serial releases like Christmas Grass, Vol. 3. This particular serial recording is subtitled "featuring 3 Fox Drive and Friends," which allows a revolving cast of well-known and lesser-known singers to sit in with the band. As the title to the collection suggests, Christmas Grass, Vol. 3 offers a bluegrass twist on the Christmas season, decorating holiday favorites like "O Holy Night" with mandolin, fiddle, and dobro. Christmas Grass, Vol. 3 provides an odd mix of songbirds like Sarah Jarosz and real countrified singers like Larry Sparks; rock crooners like John Cowan and strange recitations by country-rocker Charlie Daniels. It's traditional and contemporary, pretty and rugged. While the 38-minute collection is solid, the novelty of Christmas music performed by bluegrass acts has become a familiar custom. And as is true of nearly every Christmas song one can name, there are hundreds of versions to choose from. There is also the matter of the closing song, "Watching Over the Soldiers at Christmas," a piece of patriotic fluff that includes Daniels' reading of the Pledge of Allegiance. Still, Christmas Grass, Vol. 3 includes 3 Fox Drive's fine version of "White Christmas" and Sparks' unusual version of "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day."

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