Admit it, your holiday music collection is missing this: traditional Celtic Christmas carols sung by the lowest baritone in Nashville who also happens to be the reigning “Celebrity Apprentice.”
But before you dismiss it as a seasonal cash grab, give it a chance. The renditions here of “Tannenbaum,” ”Away in a Manger,” and “O Holy Night” manage to sound fresh thanks to that oh-so-deep voice and new arrangements heavy on the soaring strings, flutes, and mandolins.
Adkins is at his best when he stays in the low register. Have fun trying to match his bass as he belts out the “parum pum pum pum” refrain of “Little Drummer Boy.” The weaker songs are when he goes up an octave, as on “I Saw Three Ships,” featuring the Chieftains.
There are other collaborations here, including a surprisingly tender rendition of “Silent Night” featuring Kevin Costner – yes, that Kevin Costner – and his daughter Lily.
All in all, if you’re the type who likes to freshen up your holiday music annually, you could do a lot worse than these 10 tracks. Just be sure to crank up that subwoofer.
Trace Adkins ‘The King’s Gift’ Rating: W W W