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Christmas, Billy Bob style

Christmas Cheer
Christmas Cheer
By The Boxmasters

Vanguard Records: 2008

This review first appeared in Turbula in December 2008.

Billy Bob Thornton singing Christmas carols may not be everyone's idea of holiday cheer, but on the first yule collection from his band, The Boxmasters, Thornton does display a certain gruff charm. The album opens with the morbidly dark "My Dreams of Christmas," which is the "Slingblade" of holiday songs. "I Won't Be Home for Christmas," "Slower Than Christmas" and "Christmas in Prison" don't lift the mood a whole lot, while "We Three Kings" is done up as a hard-charging Johnny Cash-styled country anthem.

But on songs like "Blue Christmas," "Silver Bells" and "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer," Thornton and the band at least sound like they're singing holiday songs. And his take on John Lennon and Yoko Ono's "Happy X-mas (War Is Over)" is impassioned and heartfelt.