Country Christmas Album
Stars: Hannah Barefoot, Evan Gamble, Taylor Bedford, Valerie Jane Parker, Alexander Kane, Kevin Crowley and Jason Burkey
Director/Scriptwriter: Danny Buday
Composer: Alex Shenkman
Cinematographer: Josh Maas
Rating: G for Family
Running length: 90 Minutes
In "Country Christmas Album," we have a female country singer who is a composer and on the rise on music charts and a male rock star, who is sliding downhill and needs a career jolt. Enter the manager (Will Blagrove) who thinks they can make music together. The plot is a familiar one and could have been concerned with a cooking show (new cook and established cook) or a movie set (rising star and established actor), but the story of two singers works fine, and the music is pleasing to listen to. Hannah Barefoot plays Tess, the country singer and Evan Gamble is Derek, the rock star. Not only that, but each comes with emotional baggage and that does come out in the music, which makes it heart-felt.
As the story goes, Tess is coming off a tour with the Dixie Chicks. Her manager tells her she has no time to relax with daughter Mazzy (Taylor Bedford), instead must go to the studio to start a Christmas album with rock star Derek (Evan Gamble) The setting is Nashville and Derek is staying with his brother and sister-in-law. At first, their pairing is agreeable, but Tess has a mind of her own about wanting her music in the album and this doesn’t go along with Derek’s plan. Her voice is lyric while his voice is the Johnny Cash-gravel type. They are told to get to know each other before coming back into the studio---and all the while the clocking is ticking as to the release of the album. They meet each other’s families and even Tess’s ex, Jake (Alexander Kane) who stays at her house when he comes to town on tour. A situation that Derek doesn’t like. What to do?
Much is made of Tess’s road to success, but not much about Derek, and his type of music. No rock music here, but versions of country music to please fans, that does not display what Derek had done in the past. Hannah Barefoot (“Good Girls Revolt”) goes into the role of Tess with spirit, and a bit defensive when it comes to her music. When she is in front of a microphone, she is there, period. As Derek, Evan Gamble (“The Walking Dead”) seems to glide along without emotion in his share of the music. As the film progresses, Gamble is comfortable in the role of Derek and an outdoor singing scene is a highlight. Taylor Bedford is an enthusiastic actress in the daughter role. Jason Burkey as Mike, Evan’s brother, steals his scenes in comic situations.
Now, as far as singing is concerned, Hannah has it hands down, but Evan’s vocals tend to be slower and not as distinct at times. Hannah Barefoot is credited with singing “Winter Wonder Land,” “Geronimo,” “Something’s Missing” and “O Holy Night.” Evan Gamble is credited with singing “O Holy Night” and “Christmastime.” Taylor Bedford sings “The First Noel.” This music, and accompanying musicians, do well.
I enjoyed the interaction of family with the joking that goes along with friendship. How to make two personalities compatible? It takes patience, and you can see how it is done here. Being able to listen to the other person is a step forward. The film is family oriented and just in time for the Christmas season.
Copyright 2019 Marie Asner