With Christmas the Cowboy Way, the modern torchbearers of the cowboy singing tradition, Riders in the Sky
, deliver an interesting mix of the sublime and the goofy. "Corn, Water and Wood" is a sweet and touching adaptation of the story of the Advent, in which three cowboys bring regionally appropriate gifts to the newborn babe. Ranger Doug
's "Virgen Maria" is also very affecting. On the lighter side, there's a great swing arrangement of "Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow" that segues into "The Last Christmas Medley You'll Ever Need," which incorporates the first lines of about 20 Christmas songs. The group's cowboy adaptation of "The Twelve Days of Christmas" is also lots of fun. But "Side Meat's Christmas Stew" and "The Prairie Dog's Christmas Ball" are both just a bit too hokey, even though the hokiness is obviously part of the joke. Fans will definitely want this one, but newcomers may want to begin elsewhere.