- Released: August 21, 2001
- Label: Green Linnet
- 1.Like the First Time It's Christmas Time
- 2.Down by the Lagen Side
- 3.The Bushes of Jerusalem
- 4.Whiter Shade of Pale
- 5.Hearts of Love
- 6.A Christmas Childhood / A Call To Hope
- 7.Welcome Here Kind Stranger
- 8.Raglan Road
- 9.Slainte Mhaith / The Cat In The Attic
- 10.Let Me Be Your Island
- 11.The Mixed Marriage
- 12.Matt Hyland
- 13.Slan Abhaile
Personnel: Tommy Sands (vocals, guitar, mandolin, whistle); Lian Bradley (vocals, percussion); Dolores Keane (vocals); Johnny Scott (acoustic guitar, dobro, dulcimer); Arty McGlynn (acoustic guitar, telecaster); Steve Gooney (high guitar); John Fitzpatrick (fiddle); Liam O'Flynn (whistle, uillean pipes); Richard Parkes (Highland pipes); Rod McVey (accordian, Hammond organ, keyboards); Ben Sands, Cor Na N-Og (background vocals).
Recorded at Spring Recording Studios, Rostrevor, County Down, North Ireland.
Includes liner notes by Tommy Sands.
With this album, Irish singer and songwriter Tommy Sands makes an interesting and generally successful attempt to create a Christmas mood without recourse to traditional Christmas songs. Instead, he has written a program of songs that deal with childhood Christmas memories, themes of hospitality and welcome, and the story of Jesus' birth. The most ambitious song is the lead track, the awkwardly titled "Like the First Time It's Christmas Time," which obliquely addresses Ireland's troubled political history while expressing hope in the context of the Christmas season; the most ill-fitting song is an absolutely surreal cover version of "Whiter Shade of Pale." Everything else falls somewhere in between, and all of it is quite nice. Highlights include a great version of the traditional "Matt Hyland" and a lovely original song of parting titled "Slan Abhaile." There is also a humorous -- if hardly Christmasy -- duet with Dolores Keane called "The Mixed Marriage." Maybe not utterly essential, but very nice all in all. ~ Rick Anderson