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Shelton’s yuletide album hits close to ‘Home’

If you want to hear all your favorite, traditional Christmas tunes with a few extra syllables of country twang thrown in courtesy of Blake Shelton, then Cheers, It’s Christmas is the album for you. The string of seasonal songs kicks off wonderfully with “Oklahoma Christmas,” a guitar- and fiddle-heavy duet with first lady of country and fellow Oklahoma native Reba McEntire. The yuletide cheer keeps rolling from there.

After this rousing opening number, Shelton keeps the holiday fun going with “Santa’s Got a Choo Choo Train,” a song country duo Brooks & Dunn might call a “boot-scootin’ boogie.” You’ll want to break this jam out once the eggnog has been flowing at your holiday shindig.
But for those of us whose Christmas gathering isn’t taking place in a barn Shelton includes fairly traditional renditions of “The Christmas Song” and “I’ll Be Home for Christmas.” These tracks showcase Shelton’s rich vocal talents (the man is a coach on “The Voice,” after all).

Another track bound to be popular among a wide variety of listeners is “Home.” For this song Shelton provides supporting vocals for Michael Bublé. “Home” was originally the lead single on Bublé’s 2005 album It’s Time and has also been featured on an episode of Glee.
Cheers, It’s Christmas is at its best when Shelton teams up with some of the strongest voices in mainstream music. Another of the album’s highlights is “There’s a New Kid in Town,” which features supporting vocals courtesy of former “American Idol” winner and sometimes country cross-over artist Kelly Clarkson. Listeners might not even notice Clarkson’s contributions, considering this track features none of her signature high-pitched rocking out. But “There’s a New Kid in Town” is not Clarkson’s first country collaboration; her duet with Jason Aldean, “Don’t you Wanna Stay,” on Aldean’s 2010 country album of the year My Kinda Party, won “Single of the Year” at the 47th Academy of Country Music Awards.

The last few tracks on Cheers, It’s Christmas showcase what Shelton is all about: friends, family and good country music. On “Blue Christmas” Shelton’s vocals are backed by the Pistol Annies, a trio of fiery country ladies including Shelton’s wife Miranda Lambert, Ashley Monroe and Angaleena Presley. Next, Shelton collaborates with former “Voice” contestant Xenia for a beautiful rendition of “Silver Bells.” And the second-to-last track of the album, “Time for Me to Come Home,” is a heartfelt duet with Shelton’s mother Dorothy Shackleford that really brings this album home for the holidays.

So even though you might be just breaking out your fall wardrobe and you’re still missing summer, it’s never too early to start thinking about the holiday season. What better way is there to make the happiest time of year a little happier than by picking up Shelton’s new record?