Fingerpicking Champion and GRAMMY winner Doug Smith's second Holiday release is A Guitar For Christmas and features...
O Come All Ye Faithful
It Came Upon a Midnight Clear
O Holy Night
Carol of the Bells
The First Noel
Ding Dong Merrily on High
Away in a Manger
Veni Veni Emmanuel
Christ is Born
Still, Still, Still
God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen
What Child is This
FROM CHRISTMAS REVIEWS ...
Great instrumental guitar music for the holidays depends on several
important factors. First, the artist has to know his way around a
guitar. Grammy-winning, International Fingerstyle Guitar Champion Doug
Smith certainly brings the right credentials to the job, and his
musicianship here is astounding. Second, song selection can make or
break a release. Smith's A Guitar for Christmas
presents 14 traditional carols, the classic ancient pieces that ring
warm and true in the hands of a superbly talented guitarist like Smith.
Even better, the music extends over nearly an hour (56 minutes!),
making each track average a full four minutes in length. This brings me
to my final--and perhaps most significant--element: the arrangements.
Since we have all heard these traditional tunes a zillion times over
our lifetimes, it is important that the artist bring something fresh
and compelling to the holiday interpretations. Here, Smith uses the
four-minute-per-track average to develop and unwind thoughtfully
conceived and exquisitely executed arrangements of the seasonal
selections we know and love.
Honestly, A Guitar for Christmas is outrageously good. From the opening bars of his first cut (Oh Come All Ye Faithful),
I was hooked. Smith's incredibly rapid cascade of fingerstylin' beauty
had me wondering whether he might have two or three Smith clones
joining him on the album. The arrangement transitions from the richly
layered tapestry to a more serene, minimalist presentation of the
melody before building once more into a delicately-constructed and
dramatic wall of acoustic sound. This sweet combination of the
straightforwardly simple with the sensationally complex typifies the
entire release. Smith has the heart to convey deep emotion in the more
elementary passages and the artistic chops to sell the most
sophisticated sections with deceptive ease. In fact, his rendition of Carol of the Bells
brought tears to my eyes; the creative midsection had me holding my
breath as the bars crescendoed, then receded once again into the
I must confess to a certain bias for acoustic guitar music for the
holidays. The instrument's warm and organic voice just seems so
naturally matched for the songs and sentiments of the season. Music
like this provides the perfect backdrop for just about any holiday
activity or function; your family and friends will enjoy basking in the
glow of Smith's artistry.
Doug Smith's excellent A Guitar for Christmas is
the gift that keeps on giving. If, like me, you relish holiday
favorites in the cheerful context of brilliant fretwork and innovative
arrangements, you will not find a guitar album better than this. Bravo!
(Reviewed in 2007)