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Dave Carter and Tracy Grammer

American Noel – 2007 (Signature Sounds)

Reviewed by Dan MacIntosh

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CDs by Dave Carter and Tracy Grammer

The eight holiday songs found here are compiled from a series of Christmas CDs a Pacific Northwest hardware store president originally commissioned for his employees. Thus, they don't - nor were they ever intended to - hold together thematically. But a retail store genesis doesn't make this release any less enjoyable.

The late Dave Carter, who teamed with Tracy Grammer as a folk duo, was also an especially insightful songwriter. "Go Tell the Fox," with its Old English title, rings out like an excited announcement of the Savior's birth. It invites everybody, both rich and poor, to come witness this Christmas miracle. And then for something completely different, "Giddyup Said Santa Claus" is a lighthearted, cowboy song. Grammer's vocals shine brightest on a few of this collection's traditional tunes - particularly "Ditchling Carol where she also accompanies herself on violin. The project's best-known track is "Bring a Torch, Jeanette Isabella," even though it is not by any means an overly familiar carol. Therefore, while short on songs, the CD is fairly long on relatively unfamiliar holiday music. "American Noel" is also an apt title, as it is Americana music through and through.