Restless Heart have been celebrating their 30th anniversary this year, and the veteran group recently crossed off an item on their career bucket list, by releasing their first-ever Christmas album, "A Restless Heart Christmas."
"It's been a long time coming," lead singer Larry Stewart told Billboard. "We've been working on it on and off for a few years now. We finally took the bull by the horns, and Greg Jennings, our guitar player, offered to produce it. So, he ran with it, and we were able to get together and figure out the songs that we wanted."
Stewart said the band did have some conversations about what to include on the album, which was released by RED Entertainment, but the song selection process was fairly easy. "Some of us had a couple of favorites. We discussed what we wanted to do, and a few of us in the band are really lovers of the traditional standard Christmas songs. We still listen to Perry Como, Andy Williams, and Nat King Cole, and that's the stuff I love to hear. We wanted to keep the integrity to the standards, but also put that Restless Heart stamp to them with the harmonies. So, that's what we did. Greg threw some ideas out there, and we talked about arrangements."
The mood recording the album might have very well been the most laid back that the band has ever felt, said Stewart. "We just kind of did it as we went. It was just a process of agreeing on the songs, which was easy. It wasn't like we had to have our song and there were disagreements. How can you not like great Christmas songs? It was really easy."
One of the aspects of A Restless Heart Christmas that makes the album special is the emotional attachment that listeners get for holiday records. Stewart says he is no different. "I am just such a sucker for Christmas music, and I have been since I was six years old. I love the sounds, and have great memories of Christmas. I love the smells and I love the taste, the way it feels – even the cold weather. These are songs that we all grew up on. We wanted to give the album a vibe of what we grew up with, and capture the warmth of the season. Hopefully, we've done that."
Stewart said the band will be doing a few dates in December to promote the disc. "We're doing a four-five date tour. We love doing a Christmas show. It's so different from what we do the rest of the year. You get to the holidays, and you get to put a little spice in the show. It's so much fun to do that."
Look for more new music from the band, with a disc of new music slated for the first half of 2014. In addition, the band will kick off the year on the high seas, on the Country Music Cruise, along with artists such as Vince Gill, Kenny Rogers, and Patty Loveless. The cruise will depart from Ft. Lauderdale on January 14, with stops in Grand Turk, San Juan, and Saint Maarten.