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Reba McEntire – ‘The Ultimate Christmas Collection’ review

Country music legend Reba McEntire has released her latest collection of Christmas songs for the 2022 holiday season. Charting almost a history of Christmas music, Reba chose these twelve traditional favourites, she says, in the hopes that, “my fans enjoy this journey through time”.  In addition to buying the album, the label has released limited edition merch, including a sweatshirt, ornament, mug and lithograph. The Ultimate Christmas Collection would make a wonderful gift for the Reba fan in your life, who enjoys collecting every album. 

And no one quite does a joyous, sweet, Hallmark Christmas like queen of country music, Reba, who’s about to enter her fifth decade of music. Traditional carols, heard in school halls and churches around the world, nestle alongside more contemporary Christmas songs heard on the radio. The album ends with ‘I Needed Christmas’, which is featured in the Lifetime movie, Reba McEntire’s ‘Christmas in Tune.’ 

These ultimate songs have been arranged only slightly differently to the versions that appear on Reba’s three previous Christmas albums, offering a simpler, cleaner presentation, and keys that sound almost twinkly in places, particularly on ‘O Holy Night’ and ‘I’ll Be Home For Christmas’.  

New song, ‘I Needed Christmas’, is a reflective ballad, perfect for the winter season and TV Christmas films, and it hints at the strength of vocal we know Reba is effortlessly capable of, as she delivers the lyrics, “I needed Christmas to find my way back here to you”. It’s without a doubt the strongest song on this album. 

As good as ‘Mary, Did You Know’ is,  a very-little known Christmas song in the UK, I can’t help but feel that the version on Reba’s ‘My Kind Of Christmas’, album, from 2016, which featured husband and wife Vince Gill and Amy Grant, should have been selected by the label for The Ultimate Christmas Collection. Perhaps this Christmas album is more suited to newer Reba fans and newcomers to the traditional, legacy, country music who want to test the water, musically speaking.

Reba McEntire
Credit: Snakefarm Records

There are only twelve tracks on the Ultimate Christmas, instead of the fifteen – and guest artists including Trisha Yearwood and Kelly Clarkson – on ‘My Kind Of Christmas’. Listen to these ultimate holiday songs as a starting point, then go and listen to Reba’s back catalogue, particularly ‘90s albums, and 2019’s ‘Stronger Than The Truth’ album, to fully appreciate this Oklahoma icon. 

Track Listing: 1. Away In A Manger 2. O Holy Night 3. White Christmas 4. The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire) 5. Up On The Housetop 6. I Saw Mama Kissing Santa Claus 7. Mary, Did You Know 8. O Come All Ye Faithful 9. Jingle Bell Rock 10. Winter Wonderland 11. I’ll Be Home For Christmas 12. I Needed Christmas Record Label: Spinefarm Records Release Date: 4th November Buy ‘The Ultimate Christmas Collection’ now

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