Radio Silence Broken with Christmas Music
I am back on the net after a 3 month hiatus doing way to much volunteering for my kids school and extra curricular activities. For the 2016 holiday season we have some wonderful albums coming. Yes, I am about month behind in sending out this annual list but better late than never. This new holiday music season has familiar highs and some sad lows. I am not even going to touch R. Kelly’s new album with a 10 foot candy cane or Jimmy Buffet’s drowning album with excessive backup singers and confusing sounds. Like All I Want For Christmas which he mixes country, jazz and folk.
We are starting to see more repeat artists resurface like Amy Grant and Kylie Minogue and a lot of newcomers to the world of holiday music. This holiday season there is only two albums I actually purchased right away. Still weighing my options on two more.
A Very Kacey Christmas by Kacey Musgraves: Is my MUST ADD to your holiday album collection this year. While her renditions of Felize Navidad & Mele Kalikimaka are classic renditions. Her modern country take on such albums as Have Yourself A Merry Christmas and What Are You Doing New Years Eve? is so refreshing and comforting at the same time. I also have to give Kacey great thanks for reviving two old childhood favorites of mine like I Want A Hippopotamus for Christmas and Ribbons and Bows. She also introduced me to The Quebe Sisters who I could swear have performed on Prairie Home Companion once and after a quick google search I was right. This album I think deserves everyone’s attention, whether you like country music or not.
Kylie Christmas by Kylie Minogue: No one dislikes Kylie and if you disagree, you know you have a little affinity to 80’s Kylie singing Locomotion. Last year this album was issue with 13 songs and deluxe edition was released with 3-6 songs depending how you purchased it. This year Minogue is building on the album releasing another deluxe edition with a SNOW QUEEN packaging. This new album has a handful of new songs including a new duet with brit singer MIKA. Yes, I already bought the album and Yes, I will be buying it all over again.
180 Gram Audiophile White/Vinyl is term you will see a lot of this Christmas. A lot of classic albums are being rereleased in this format. The term describes the weight of the album that was digitized. Typical albums range between 120-140grams. To find a 180gram is kind of rare. The sound is more solid and less waves after its been digitized. Is it worth buying a whole new album in said format? I am leaning toward no right now, I think the quality is a little cleaners but I prefer the sound of the scratches and imperfections when it comes to classic albums. This season Dolly Parton/Kenny Roger’s
A Pentatonic Christmas by Pentatonix: The harmonically talented group is back with their second full EP release of holiday favorites. This time around their sounds seems to be drowned out by background music. What I loved about their first album was they made the highlight of each song their powerful voices. This new album just blares in your ears. My suggestions, if you have not added their first album That’s Christmas To Me to your library, then I would choose it over their new album.
A Swingin’ Little Christmas by Jane Lynch & Co.: This album is the hidden gem of the season. Actress Jane Lynch (Glee, Best in Show) brought together friends actress Kate Flannery (The Office) and singer Tim Davis along with The Tony Guerrero Quintet. The album is filled with many christmas classics but the shinning stars is Coventry Carol which Flannery’s angelic voice soars and instrumental for Silent Night. A fun song on the album is their swaying perfect Bring a Torch, Jeanette Isabella. Be sure to add this album to holiday party mix rotation. It’s nice conversation starters for holiday loving guests. “Did you know this song is being sung by Coach Sylvester?”
Laura Navidad by Laura Pausini: This Italian Diva breaks onto the charts with vocal rich album for the holidays. Her classic renditions of Silent Night (Noche de Paz) and Oh Come Ye Faithful (Adeste Fideles) are the real highlights of the album. Although her performances was lip-synced, he’s still easy on the eyes. This is her first holiday album and already it’s a hit overseas. Her Italian vocals would certainly be a great xmas dinner addition.
Wonderland by Sarah McLachlan: She’s at it again! Last Year McLachlan rereleased her 2006 album Wintersong with 6 new additional songs. She must loves those fat royalty checks so much because she’s back one year later with 11 new songs on her Wonderland album. All of the song titles are pretty much on your regular rotation already and the sound is not what you might expect from Sarah. Her Wintersong sound is certainly absent in this album. She has opted to emphasize classic sounds over the angelic sound that has garnered her success for over 25 years. Again, I refer to another artists previous album for something better.
Tennessee Christmas by Amy Grant: She back and it’s crazy to think Amy Grant has been making albums for 40 years next year. Her 1992 album is still one of my Top 10 Holiday Albums. This Grant’s 10 Christmas Album, I am not counting the compilation album she release with the Cracker Barrel Chain of stores. Another favorite album by Grant and it’s a hard find, is her 1986 The Animals’ Christmas which was a duet album with Art Garfunkel. Her new album is a little a little misleading. I was expecting a rich country album but instead it’s more of contemporary with a little jazz sound in such songs as Baby, It’s Cold Outside. My favorite songs include O Come, All Ye Faithful and December. Of course husband and singer Vince Gill returns again for a duet on the album.
Last and my headliner for this season holiday music is Simply Christmas by Leslie Odom Jr.: If you have seen Hamilton on Broadway then you are ver familiar with Leslie's work. I fell in love with this album, already purchased it. What's not to love abouta man and piano. It’s so simple, so clean and a beautiful sound. The band ensemble in I’ll Be Home for Christmas is simply amazing and First Noel is one of the most on point renditions I have heard in a long time.
In the single department, Friar Allesandro’s Oh Holy Night is a wonderful treat this season. I had never heard about the Friar before but running across his single and his performance on the UK talk show was eye opening. Yes, he’s also easy on the eyes.
Here are a few other albums that you might want to check out.
A Hollens Family Christmas by Peter Hollens, he’s got a beautiful voice but the a cappella sound is thick throughout the album. However I have to give him props for her rendition of Josh Groban’s Believe.
These Christmas Lights by Matt Redman: The album is great sound for the holidays but most of the songs sound in the same style and key. Not a lot of diversity here. If you like a soft sound during the holidays, this is your album.
It’s Christmas of Course by Darlene Love: In the Reissue realm of holiday music, Darlene’s 2007 album has the great Motown legend looking to the blues for this holiday season. Her voice is older but it still brings loving spirit of the holidays.
Acoustic Christmas by Neil Diamond: I am going to be completely honest, I am not a Neil Diamond fan. There I said it. Regardless I will admit this is pretty decent album for Diamond but range is not one of it’s highlights. Children Do Where I Send Thee is a kids song.
Merry Christmas by Andra Day: You might remember Andra Day did a duet with Stevie Wonder ofSomeday at Christmas which was showcased in Apple’s 2015 Holiday ad campaign. Day built a mini album off the single with 5 new renditions of other Xmas classics. It’s vocal rich but there is no new sound out of these common classics.
That’s it for the 2016 season. Check back next year! Fingers crossed we get some serious meaty album released. It’s been a while since we have seen a legendary album released.