Album review: JOSH TURNER – King Size Manger

Spinefarm Records [release date 08.10.21]

On his latest album, King Size Manger, Josh Turner has put his own self penned/co-written material up against famous 19th century Christmas Carols like ‘Angels We Have Heard On High’, ‘The First Nowell’ and ‘Silent Night’. That might suggest he is a hugely ambitious fellow, or that he’s taken up tilting at windmills.

Or maybe it’s the result of a wise decision to make his latest recording, ‘King Size Manger’, a Christmas album with a difference.

And it is, but for all the wrong reasons. The sickly sweet ‘What He’s Given Me’ and the uninspired retelling of the Virgin birth on the title track ‘King Size Manger’, both of them self penned, not to mention the totally out of place ‘Soldiers Gift’, is more than enough. The syrupy sentimentality in these songs threatens to subvert the simple sentiments of Christmas. In contrast, we find these honest sentiments in abundance on the classic Christmas songs he’s chosen to cover.

‘Joy To The World’, sung with his wife and family, and ‘Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas’ show a sure, confident touch. The plain and simple arrangements, full of country guitar twang, tuned into Turner’s sub yodelling vocals, are perfectly calibrated to the classic material’s traditionally framed lyrics. There’s enough right there to remind us of the close spiritual ties between the Church and Country Music.

The man’s artistry is undeniable. He’s a platinum selling country music star, but he’s misfiring here. **

Review by Brian McGowan

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