Because It’s Christmas Time
If you’re one of us who sometimes requires a significant attitude adjustment to get into the Christmas spirit, this old-time Yuletide collection is bound to give you one.
Mullins, a six-time IBMA Award-winner, including 2019’s Entertainer of the Year, has, along with his talented bandmates, mined the past and revived some delightful holiday gems of yesteryear.
The band’s rendition of Buck Owens’ “Because It’s Christmas Time” is a straightforward, open-hearted embrace of the season, as is the Ramblers’ delightful take on Hank Snow’s “Reindeer Boogie.” The Ramblers also turn in an earnest rendition of Jimmy Davis’s “No Room at the Inn.”
Mullins and the crew really pull out the stops on their free-wheeling, rollicking and rolling ride on Chuck Berry’s “Run Run Rudolph.” The extended track features some deft tempo shifts and some blazing instrumental solos, highlighted by red-hot Berry guitar riffs transposed to Chris Davis’s electric mandolin.
On more laid-back and reflective numbers such as “The Night Before Christmas” (Marcia Henry), “The Manger” and “There Was a Time on Earth.” Mullins draws on his deep gospel roots. The latter song is a lovely meditation written by Mike Fultz, the long-time musical director at Middle Urbana Missionary Baptist Church in Springfield, Ohio, where Mullins has worshipped for years.
Another gem, “Christmas at the Old Home Place” was penned by Earl Barnes, once a popular entertainer at Renfro Valley and elsewhere. Bass player Randy Barnes, Earl’s son, turns in a fine lead vocal this time around.
Admittedly, the holidays can also be bitter-sweet for some of us as we reflect on the seats that remain empty, come Christmas dinner time. The doleful “From My Broken Heart to You” addresses these folks. It was cowritten by Ramblers guitarist Adam McIntosh and his sister Angela, both of whom sing harmonies to Chris Davis’s lead vocal. Jason Barie complements things with some poignant triple fiddle fills.
The protagonist in “From My Broken Heart” is a heartsick man stuck alone on Christmas Day as he watches the snow fall and grieves over an “ex” who made an untimely exit just before the big day. It’s the only sad song here, but it sure packs a punch.