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edge staff writer


Time for toys, time for cheer: Our list of 2021’s best Christmas albums is here

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It’s that magical time of the season when I sit here in my tiny office, which slightly resembles an all-music episode of “Hoarders,” and make my way through an imposing stack of the year’s holiday-themed releases. I love Christmas music and this year’s offerings have a little something for everybody, whether you jingle all the way, halfway or not at all.

Now That’s What I Call Music – “Christmas Classics” (NOW)

Now this is what I call predictable but if you’re looking for a single title packed with classics, this one checks a lot of boxes. The latest release in the ongoing 290 million-plus selling “Now That’s What I Call Music” series is loaded with archetypal holiday recordings, beginning with Bing Crosby’s original 1942 Decca rendering of “White Christmas.” The biggest holiday hits are here from Dean Martin, Burl Ives, Johnny Mathis, Andy Williams, Perry Como, Brenda Lee, Bobby Helms, Darlene Love, Ella Fitzgerald, and ten others, all in excellent sound quality.

Kelly Clarkson – “When Christmas Comes Around” (Atlantic)

Clarkson’s second Christmas album blends holiday evergreens with seven new co-written tracks, and duets with country and pop superstars. Clarkson’s voice, the retro arrangements and the performances are the big draw here. This mostly uplifting album fulfills Clarkson’s goal of comprising themes people tend to feel at Christmas time: love, loss, hope and optimism. Some of the original tunes here deserve perennial status, including “Christmas Isn’t Cancelled (Just You)”, “Glow,” a duet with Chris Stapleton, and “Santa Can’t You Hear Me” (with Ariana Grande).

Pentatonix – “Evergreen” (RCA)

The fifth Christmas album by a cappella powerhouse Pentatonix is a delight. There is so much talent in this group, it’s almost ridiculous but the sounds they make could melt the heart of the stingiest Scrooge on your list. Highlights include the too-brief opener “It’s Been A Long, Long Time,” their hit cover of Paul McCartney’s “Wonderful Christmastime,” Joni Mitchell’s “River,” “Over The River” (with virtuoso violinist Lindsey Stirling) and the original title track.

Pistol Annies – “Hell of a Holiday” (RCA Nashville)

This is not exactly a traditional Christmas record but it’s a great one nonetheless from the country super-trio comprised of Miranda Lambert, Ashley Monroe and Angaleena Presley. Their first album since 2018 combines the group’s trademark humor, cutting lyrics and inventive songwriting that weaves shades of traditional country with elements of gospel, jazz and pop. Consider it a Christmas album for people who don’t like Christmas albums, this one will make you laugh, it’ll make you think and it might even make you dance.

Norah Jones – “I Dream of Christmas” (Blue Note Records)

This album sounds like the calm after the storm which it probably was for Jones who said she dreamed it up during the pandemic while listening to some of her favorite Christmas albums from the past. Original highlights include the jazzy, playful “Christmas Glow,” the opener, “Christmas Calling (Jolly Jones)” and “It’s Only Christmas Once a Year.” Jones’s voice and tasteful arrangements cast covers by Chuck Berry, Irving Berlin and even The Chipmunks, in a new light.

Last modified on Wednesday, 01 December 2021 08:31


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