For his third holiday album -- he releases one every decade, more or less like clockwork -- George Strait concentrates on the basics, something that's evident from the very title of Classic Christmas
. There's not a new tune or obscurity among the album's ten songs, as Strait relies heavily on carols like "Silent Night," "Joy to the World," and "O Come, All Ye Faithful," adding a couple relatively newer standards like "Jingle Bells" and "Up on the Housetop" for balance. This makes Classic Christmas
quite a bit different from 1999's Merry Christmas Wherever You Are
, which concentrated on brand-new tunes and secular favorites like "Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!," "The Christmas Song," and "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" -- songs that he pulled off nicely, but the simplicity of these standards is well suited for Strait's warm, easygoing touch. Indeed, Classic Christmas
is quite warm and easygoing, a relaxed collection of gentle acoustic numbers and subdued Western swing ("Jingle Bells" and "Upon on the Housetop" benefit quite a bit from the latter) that feels as true to Strait's sound as it does to the spirit of the season.