Christmas In The Heart

Bob Dylan celebrates the Christmas hit parade the old-fashioned way: He plays it straight, as much as his pitted baritone allows, with a band that mixes David Hidalgo with R&B guitarist Phil Upchurch. There are hymns ("Hark the Herald Angels Sing"), chestnuts ("Little Drummer Boy") and tinsel: Backup choristers add wholesome glitz. Dylan's singing is often nimble and clear — he goes high in "The First Noel" without a hint of gravel. The effect is like a Woodstock snowfall with the defiance of 1970's Self Portrait: Another way of saying his roots are everywhere.

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