The Patriot Ledger
Tunes to trim the tree or spin the dreidel by

Robin and Linda Williams
The First Christmas Gift

Red House Records

M any folks will turn to pop icons for their Christmas music this year. But while there is a certain comfort in that familiarity, many artists put their own twists on holiday classics which can become new favorites.

A special Christmas CD this year is Robin and Linda Williams' "The First Christmas Gift" (Red House Records,, A blend of originals, traditional songs and covers, the Virginia-based husband-wife duo's music is a riveting mix of folk, country and bluegrass. Their endearing sound is built on years of performing t og e t h e r.

You are instantly drawn in by the title track, which tells the Christmas story, and will get you singing along. It is followed by an unusual holiday song with a rustic lighthearted nature some may appreciate. Called "Shotgun Shells on a Christmas Tree," it tells of a first tree adorned with red and green shotgun shells and provides an amalgam of holiday images and memories.

The duo, whom you may have heard on "A Prairie Home Companion," "Austin City Limits," "Mountain Stage" or "The Grand Ole Opry," provides lush harmonies in Steve Earle's sweet melody "Nothing But A Child" and John Prine's "Silent Night All Day Long." They sing of the warmth of family, togetherness, love and the joy of the season. Their imagery is uniquely precious, from Roger Miller's "Little Toy Trains" to the tender original "Together All Alone," with pictures of home in winter: "It's a snow driftin' night and all the roads are closed / But baby that's all right because we've got no place to go."

Traditionalists will enjoy the bluegrass melody of "Mary Had A Baby," with fiddle and banjo and lush harmonies, along with the a cappella of "A Virgin Most Pure."