Personnel: Chris Young (background vocals); Carl Miner (acoustic guitar); Derek Wells (electric guitar); Joshua Carter (strings); Dave Cohen (piano, Hammond b-3 organ, synthesizer); Miles McPherson (drums, percussion); Corey Crowder (programming, background vocals); Kristen Rogers (background vocals).
Audio Mixer: Billy Decker.
Recording information: Avex Studio Azabu, Tokyo, Japan; Sound Stage Studios, Nashville, TN; Studio 602, Nashville, TN; The Sound Station, Nashville, TN; The Wheelhouse, Franklin, TN.
Arriving six albums into Chris Young's career -- and not long after "I'm Comin' Over" gave him one of his biggest hits ever -- It Must Be Christmas capitalizes on the singer's penchant for crooning. His best songs were often ballads, and while the album includes a fair number of slow fireside tunes, such a warm, easy touch benefits relaxed secular classics like "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas." Young maintains this cozy vibe throughout It Must Be Christmas, although there winds up being a slight disconnect on the original tunes "Under the Weather," "There's a New Kid in Town," and "It Must Be Christmas," all fine numbers that are produced so they can slide onto contemporary country playlists in 2016. They feel like radio tunes, they don't feel seasonal, so they wind up sticking out on a collection that is designed for snowy nights. They may not quite fit but that's hardly enough to mar a collection that does everything a modern mainstream holiday album should do: it plays upon memories of Christmas while appealing to the moment at hand. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine