Every Christmas 3,500 Hallmark Gold Crown stores release the greeting card giant's annual holiday CD that is sold exclusively in their shops. Each disc sells for $7.95 with the purchase of three Hallmark greeting cards or $10.95 if you buy one without cards.
Hallmark CDs are not throw away efforts. Their recent seasonal CDs by George Strait and James Taylor were certified platinum within a month of release while discs by Michael McDonald and Barry Manilow went gold. All are limited editions even though you can often find them after Christmas on Amazon. This year the honors go to rocker Sheryl Crow.
Home For Christmas is a ten song CD that shows Crow to be in a more subdued mood than usual and, while still technically a rock record, the disc is more blues and R&B oriented than most of her other work.
Crow opens the disc with the not often recorded "Go Tell It On The Mountain," then adds a perfectly placed horn section to several tracks including soulful versions of "White Christmas," "The Christmas Song," and "Merry Christmas, Baby." She also covers the ancient traditional folk song "All Through The Night." While it is technically not a Christmas song it fits in well with her holiday mood very nicely. A quietly appropriate "I'll Be Home For Christmas" features a string section. Crow also gives us a nice surprise with one original political song, "There Is A Star That Shines Tonight."
Producer Bill Bottrell who anchored her debut, Tuesday Night Music Club, all the way back in 1993 is back at the helm here. Booker T. Jones, the legendary Stax organist, plays on four tracks. With all-stars such as Jones and Bottrell on board for the ride it's obvious that Crow and Hallmark took these sessions very seriously.
Home For Christmas is not an exciting disc, but it is lively in spots, and is definitely more serious than most of Crow's other work. Her efforts should be rewarded by adding this CD to your Christmas music collection.