Three-year old Kate Kirk is afflicted with Niemann-Pick Disease Type A/B, a rare and fatal genetic disorder. This album is part of For Kate's Sake, an effort to raise money for a life-saving bone marrow transplant. For Kate's Sake is being conducted under the auspices of The Children's Organ Transplant Association. to:KATE was organized by the E-Street Band's Garry Tallent, who played bass on and produced many of the songs on the album. All these songs were recorded specifically for this album and are performed in country or rock styles.
Eight of the fourteen songs on the album are traditional or have previously been recorded. Jason & the Scorchers tear up a scorching version of O Holy Night. This is probably the best version I've heard of this song, which appears on other holiday collections either oversung by a diva wannabe or so overproduced as to have all the life sucked out of the song. The Mavericks' Raul Malo sings and performs all instruments on Willie Nelson's Pretty Paper, sounding just like Roy Orbison in his popular rendition of this song. Joe Ely performs an accordian-driven, sparsely instrumented version of Bob Dylan's Winterlude, and John Corbett performs Guy Clark's Ain't No Trouble to Me, an interesting selection for a holiday album, since it only briefly mentions Christmas.
The other six songs are original tunes performed by the songwriter or his/her band. Nearly all these songs will make worthy holiday standards in the future. Highlights include Jim Lauderdale's rocking, steel-guitar-driven Holly & Her Mistletoe and the Big Happy's Gift Wrapped Boy. Rosie Flores add horns to her Christmas Everyday, giving it a Brenda Lee Christmas album feel. Steve Earle's Nothing But a Child, performed with Allison Moorer, reminds us what the holiday season is all about.
This is a strong collection of traditional Christmas tunes and quality new songs. For the most part, this album avoids the pitfalls of many holiday collections where big names present uninspiring toss-offs of Christmas carols. The album is a balanced mix of established artists and rising stars, with the established artists presenting fresh arrangements of the well-known songs and the rising stars providing quality originals. This is a fine collection, especially for such a great cause.
Page design by David N. Pyles