There are many reasons -- good and bad -- to cut a holiday album. Luckily, the folks at Pinecastle took the high road and used the Christmas season as an excuse to show off its excellent roster of artists. Bluegrass notables -- Jesse McReynolds, Scott Vestal, and Charlie Waller -- rub elbows with newcomers -- Michelle Nixon, Sally Jones, and Whitehouse. As one might imagine, these country-flavored singers and pickers celebrate Christmas in the good old-fashioned way, recalling family, friends, and home cooking. David Parmley and Continental Divide sing of "Christmas in the Mountains," where Grandma bakes apple pies and the local church bells ring. In "When It's Christmas in Virginia," Michelle Nixon and Drive remind listeners how lonely the season can be when loved ones are far away. There's a heavy emphasis on religious fare, like Eddie and Martha Adcock's "One Starry Night," and Jim Hurst and Missy Raines' "Heaven's Light," and old standbys like Larry Stephenson's take on "Away in the Manger," and the Special Consensus' version of "Go Tell It on the Mountain." Pinecastle Christmas Gathering also allows the artists to deliver their own "merry Christmas" at the end of the album, adding a nice personal touch. Weary of the typical holiday fare that crowds the radio airwaves, bluegrass fans will rejoice at an hour's worth of fine performances that capture the splendor of the season.
AllMusic Review by Ronnie D. Lankford, Jr.