By Soda Canter
Turner adds his own sparkle to a solid first outing in the holiday arena
Over the course of the last two decades, Josh Turner has etched a covetable place in the history of country music through his commitment to representing tradition. In 2018, Turner shifted gears released the more gospel focused I Serve a Savior, followed by the country cover set Country State of Mind in 2022. Now, he’s continuing this journey with his first-ever Christmas album, King Size Manger.
As expected, Turner doesn’t disappoint in his covers of several treasured holiday classics over the record. He breathes new life into the arrangements by stripping away any excess for a bluegrass and country-infused sound that pushes his beloved baritone front and center. His voice soars on the uplifting ‘Angels We Have Heard On High’ and again on rockabilly accented ‘Joy to the World’, which provides a beautiful feature from Rhonda Vincent.
The melancholy of the standard ‘Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas’ isn’t present this time around - with help from a layered, joy-filled vocal from Turner’s family and an intimate holiday message from his son at the end, the song embodies a newly refreshed warmth.
The choral sound continues on his version of ‘Go Tell It On the Mountain’, which starts with a simple hand-clapping introduction and builds along a vibrant piano accompaniment. However, he revs up the pace and amps up guitar when he goes full traditional country on the memorable ‘Santa Claus Is Coming to Town.’
On the originals, Turner demonstrates his skillful ability to develop and drive home a hook. This is present on the soon-to-be-played-on-every-holiday-station-forevermore ‘King Size Manger’, which showcases an expertly crafted, catchy chorus.
However, the standout original - and perhaps even album track overall - is ‘What He’s Given Me’, penned by Turner and fellow songwriter Pat McLaughlin. The result is a raw, gospel inspired set reminiscent of Dolly Parton’s groundbreaking bluegrass album The Grass is Blue. There’s a spark of authenticity throughout this specific vocal that creates a hopeful tone, particularly in the space of encouraging gratefulness during the holiday season.
On these efforts, Turner adds his own sparkle to a solid first outing in the holiday arena. Overall, the set overall exudes warmth, gratefulness and a focus on family from a consistently pure voice within the country music community. One can only imagine what 2022 might bring to the singer’s ever-growing catalogue.
King Size Manger is out now via UMG Recordings. You can purchase the record from Holler's selected partners below.