‘Tis the season. Well, it’s still a bit early to hang out the holly, but where the music industry is concerned, this is prime time to put out new holiday releases by your favorite artists. If you are looking for some fresh spins on the old favorites, here’s a synopsis of a few of the notable holiday albums available this season, guaranteed to get you in the holiday mood.
BLAKE SHELTON, CHEERS, IT’S CHRISTMAS
As if last night’s CMA Entertainer of the Year didn’t have enough on his plate, Blake Shelton is one of at least three country artists to put out a Christmas record this year. To his credit, this record doesn’t just do overworked renditions of old tunes, but throws in some nice originals, too, along with an overall rockabilly/swing vibe that makes this actually sound like a country album. In keeping with Shelton’s tongue-in-cheek humor, there are plenty of fun moments, including “Blue Christmas” (feat. Pistol Annies), “Santa’s Got a Choo Choo Train”, and “Oklahoma Christmas,” a duet with Reba.
LADY ANTEBELLUM, ON THIS WINTER’S NIGHT
Lady A apparently couldn’t resist jumping on the holiday record bandwagon this year. Mainly traditional favorites with a couple of original tunes thrown in, this record is fairly straightforward in its arrangements, basically banking on name recognition to get in on the holiday sales. Tastefully done, but not a masterpiece. If you like Lady A, you’ll like the record.
ROD STEWART, MERRY CHRISTMAS BABY
In keeping with the jazzy crooner style he has been lounging in the past few years, Rod Stewart has released a classy holiday record (his first Christmas album, surprisingly enough) featuring musical guests such as Trombone Shorty, Mary J. Blige and Michael Buble. Should put you right in the mood to break out the champagne (or the egg nog, if you prefer).
SCOTTY MCCREERY, CHRISTMAS WITH SCOTTY MCCREERY
American Idol winner and Nashville newcomer Scotty McCreery wasted no time getting in on the holiday action, putting out a holiday record even before his official sophomore release. Actually, the record is tasteful and charming, and is charting well. Our country correspondent Rob Burkhardt did a nice review of this record here.
COLBIE CAILLAT, CHRISTMAS IN THE SAND
Don’t be fooled by the album’s title—the pop singer’s new holiday release isn’t necessarily beach-themed. “Christmas In the Sand” is just the title track, and while the record tries to sound somewhat California-y, it basically just comes out as contemporary renditions of Christmas favorites. Not bad—just not really a standout.
CEE LO GREEN, CEE LO’S MAGIC MOMENT
The surprise of the season, the eccentric Voice judge known for his work in Gnarls Barkley and Goodie Mob (and more recently for his solo hit “F**k You”) has not only put out a family-friendly holiday record, but one of the coolest records of the fall. Great arrangements on holiday favorites that showcase Cee Lo’s vocal range as well as his overall talent. Listen for the duet with Christina Aguilera on “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” as well as the Muppets guesting on “All I Need Is Love”—a creative spin on the “Mah Na Mah Na” song.