The Heart of the Minstrel on Christmas Day is modern day minstrel Harvey Reid's 1990 reissue on his own label, Woodpecker. Sixteen instrumentals and one song comprise this Christmas album, featuring Reid on solo guitar and autoharp without accompaniment. Many classic songs like "Angels We Have Heard on High" and "Hark, the Herald Angles Sing" are handled lovingly. He covers an upbeat "Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer" and offers a fine flat-picking version of "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town." He has also written one original, "The Heart of the Minstrel on Christmas Day," on which he sings about the traditions that are preserved and passed on by minstrels. It is enjoyable to listen an album of well-known carols in an unadorned, intimate setting that avoids the usual clutter and glitz of many holiday albums. Reid is eclectic as always, and seems as happy to play "Ode to Joy" as "Jingle Bells." His liner notes offer a few words on the inspiration and origin of each song and include a few helpful tips on tunings and use of capos for aspiring guitarists. While many artists seem to record seasonal albums for commercial reasons, Reid has often based his recordings around specific themes and seems to genuinely love Christmas music. "Jingle Bells" and "O Holy Night" sound just fine on solo guitar, and, like Christmas with Chet Atkins, this quiet album is well suited for the evening hours during the winter holidays.
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AllMusic Review by Ronnie D. Lankford, Jr.