Artist: Kimmie Rhodes
Album: Miracles On Christmas Day
Label: Sunbird
Tracks: 12

I had no idea that Texas singer songwriter Kimmie Rhodes was working on a Christmas CD, her first such project, so I couldn't wait to get this into my player, even if it is barely November!

The story goes that one Christmas, years ago, inspired while watching her friend Willie Nelson open multiple packages all containing platinum records of his beloved song, Pretty Paper, Kimmie pledged to write a holiday song every year. Now, as a gift to her fans and friends worldwide, she and her son, musician Gabe Rhodes have collaborated on brilliant new productions of each of those songs, along with her producer husband Joe Gracey and a wonderful group of musicians; Kimmie Rhodes on vocals and rhythm guitar, Gabriel (Gabe) Rhodes (Kimmie's son) on guitars, mandolin, keyboards, glass harp and vocals, vocals, Hunt Sales on drums, percussion and bells, Glen Fukunaga on bass, Brian Standifer on cello, steel guitar, John Mills on clarinet, saxophone and flute, Floyd Domino on piano, Joel Guzman on accordion and guitar and, last but not least, Nigel Eaton on the wonderfully named hurdy gurdy. Recorded in Kimmie and Joe's own Sunbird Recording Studios in Austin, Texas, the CD features mostly tunes penned by Kimmie herself. However, it also includes a stirring cover of Patty Griffin's exquisite Mary and two intriguing versions of Christmas classics, namely , Carol of the Bells, (which, I have since learned, is an ancient pagan Ukrainian chant), and What Child is This (set to the tune of Greensleeves - trust me, it works!).

To me, this CD is of the same caliber as Christmas offerings by such artists as Gretchen Peters and Mary Chapin Carpenter. Why? Simply because they are perfect to play in your living room with a lit fire, burning candles and a mug of hot chocolate on a cold winter's night. It is as much a 'winter' CD as it is a 'Christmas' CD and at this time of year should have a place in every music lover's 'frequently played' pile.

Helen Mitchell