Richie McDonald,
If Every Day Could Be Christmas
(LoReMoMa, 2007)

After Lonestar and the band's record label parted ways earlier in 2007, lead singer Richie McDonald decided to re-evaluate his priorities, putting his family first and embarking on a solo career emphasizing his faith. If Every Day Could Be Christmas is the first result of McDonald's bold new direction. And it's a direction that seems to be paying off, as McDonald is currently touring as the featured male vocalist for Jim Brickman's Homecoming Holiday concert tour.

McDonald's emphasis on faith is apparent in this album, beyond the holiday theme. "Blessed are the Hands that Give," "Miracles Happen" and the underlying theme of the title track demonstrate McDonald's desire to produce faith-driven songs that don't rely solely upon the holiday accoutrements. And with the nouveau gospel "Mary Did You Know," he presents a more recent holiday favorite that explores the true meaning and majesty of the Christmas holiday. (Not to mention that he gets a chance to show off his trademark higher notes from his Lonestar days.)

This Christmas album also includes some secular nostalgic favorites as well, including Irving Berlin's "White Christmas," Mel Torme's "The Christmas Song" as well as "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year" by Pola & Wyle. Other songs touch on the tender nature of this holiday, such as "Coming Home for Christmas" and its pleasant piano intro. Even New York -- a city that country music hasn't been all that kind to over the years -- gets a nice nostalgic nudge in "Christmas in New York." McDonald makes the Big Apple sound more like a Thomas Kinkade painting than the hustling, bustling metropolis. And despite having a very annoying instrumental lead-in (although kids are sure to love its instant recognizability), "Why Santa's Fat" is actually a cute song that's sure to be a favorite among the kiddos. McDonald's own children provide the chorus for a song that explores the underlying reason for Mr. Ho-Ho-Ho's heft.

If Every Day Could Be Christmas is one of those typical, family-friendly Christmas albums that children will enjoy and will undoubtedly instill nostalgia in parents. In the case of McDonald's album, the predictability should be a comfort and enjoyed for what it is. If anything should be reliable and steady, why not a Christmas album? For those soured on 24/7 Christmas radio and the treacly "same old songs," then look elsewhere; however, if you love the perennial revisitation of nostalgic holiday feeling through the season's cyclically-present music, If Every Day Could Be Christmas is bound to be a delight.

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review by
C. Nathan Coyle

22 December 2007

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