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Wednesday, December 10, 2008

CD Review: "The Julianne Hough Collection"

“Dancing With the Stars” fans know Julianne Hough as the two-time champ with the skilled moves and the gutsy choreography.

But now, music fans are getting to know her as a country singer with a lot of heart. And you’ll hear every bit of that heart on “The Julianne Hough Collection,” one of this year’s offerings from the “NBC Sounds of the Season” line (You may remember that last year’s was the outstanding “Elliott Yamin Collection.”).

If I had to describe the CD in one word, I would use “homey;” and since we’re talking about Christmas music that’s not a bad thing. Julianne rips out her best country twang on standards like “Jingle Bell Rock,” “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” and “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.” And her homey country style also works well on the semi-standard “Feliz Navidad.”

But the highlight on this CD is a duet with Phil Vassar, “It Wasn’t His Child/Mary Did You
Know.” The arrangement beautifully combines these two songs and Vassar is a great addition to Julianne’s voice. It’s one of those songs that when you hear it for the first time, you kind of want to stand up and cheer because it’s that good.
Unfortunately, however, the producers chose to follow this gorgeous spiritual track with “Santa Baby,” which comes off as a little jarring. Personally, I would’ve followed “Mary” with “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” or “Christmas Memories” (where Julianne shares some of her Christmas memories) and then did “Santa Baby.” But “Baby” is a perfect fit for Julianne so once you get past that initial jar it works quite well.

If you’re looking for a Christmas CD with good traditional and contemporary songs that you can just let play then this one is a good choice. It makes me think that maybe Julianne is not making a mistake by leaving “Dancing” to concentrate on her music career…

“NBC Sounds of the Season: The Julianne Hough Collection” is available exclusively at Target stores and online at…
Photo Credit: NBC Universal