For most artists recording a Christmas record is a convenient stop-gap in between releasing new material. In Peter Cetera's case this doesn't ring true as it has been a while since we last heard from one of soft rock's most distinctive crooners. You Just Gotta Love Christmas brings to the table everything you'd expect from a Peter Cetera record: lush, pleasant arrangements with crisp, warm, polished production and able musicanship from a crew of veteran session players. It's a mix of holiday favorites mixed in with a few originals and some guest appearances from Alison Krauss and Peter's daughter Claire; who is more than up to the task of singing with her father on two of the album's 12 tracks. Cetera and Chicago fans will no doubt enjoy having this on in the background during the holidays.
In the dense annual blizzard of holiday albums, A VERY SPECIAL ACOUSTIC CHRISTMAS shines like a gleaming treetop star from a warm, inviting living room, thanks to its organic, no-frills approach and its remarkable lineup of performers. Dan Tyminski (of O BROTHER, WHERE ART THOU? fame) offers up a charming version of "Frosty the Snowman," while Willie Nelson lends his legendary voice and guitar playing to a fine take on "Please Come Home for Christmas." Alison Krauss contributes her surprisingly poppy "Only You Can Bring Me Cheer (Gentleman's Lady)," Marty Stuart confides that "Even Santa Claus Gets the Blues," and Pat Green saunters through a relaxed "Winter Wonderland." Bringing the Yuletide album to an appropriate close is Norah Jones, in a beautiful solo rendition of Horace Silver's "Peace".