All I want for Christmas is a cohesive record
As with Sugarland’s previous studio efforts, lead singer Jennifer Nettles suffers from a vocal identity crisis on the duo’s new holiday-themed Gold and Green
. Does she want to be a saccharine adult-contemporary crooner (“Gold and Green”), a wailing gospel beacon (“Coming Home”) or the twangy country girl next door (“Nuttin’ For Christmas”)? Here, such shifts seem contrived, robbing Nettles of any relatable authenticity. What little sincerity the set has comes from Kristian Bush singing lead on “Maybe Baby (New Year’s Day)” and “Holly Jolly Christmas.” Unfortunately, the latter is all but ruined by an oddly placed reprise of Nettles’ “Winter Wonderland”—thanks, but hearing the forgettable full version of the track just one song before was enough. Unsurprisingly, Gold and Green
’s schizophrenic tone seems tailored for mass consumption by country radio and the soccer-mom set, but most other listeners will need far more eggnog to stomach such uninspired holiday cheer.