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Donna Ulisse

All the Way to Bethelem – 2012 (Hadley Music Grouop)

Reviewed by Dan MacIntosh

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CDs by Donna Ulisse

Donna Ulisse deserves much admiration for her album "All The Way to Bethlehem," which may be the best Christmas story-related country album of 2012. For starters, it's traditional bluegrass music from start to finish. Better still, it's comprised of all original songs. There isn't a single holiday retread on this sturdy, but entertaining new model vehicle.

Ulisse is a fine singer and songwriter, as she applies a short story writer's approach to telling Jesus' birth story from various angles. While Mary's unique dilemma - that of being a virgin mother - has been contemplated in song a few times before, and is done so again here with He's Not Mine, Ulisse also takes time to consider Elisabeth's story, however (she was Mary's older cousin and the mother of John The Baptist). This lesser known cousin is sung about on one simply titled Elisabeth.

Perhaps this album's prettiest song is Let the World Wait for A Little While, which finds Mary describing the universal joys of motherhood. We may sometimes forget how much Mary must have loved her little boy, aside from this relationship's huge spiritual implications. Yes, Jesus would have a great work ahead of him; but for a little while, he was Mary's precious little child. Ulisse sings with great tenderness throughout this album, while her topnotch instrumental talent, including Byron House and Viktor Krauss, back her up beautifully. If you buy only one new Christmas album this year, make it "All The Way to Bethlehem."