Sara Groves O Holy Night: The newest addition to my Christmas tuneage, this album is peaceful, relaxing, and great background to a Christmas work day. She mostly reworks classic tunes, creating new melodies and backgrounds. It mostly works. My favorite, though, is the lighthearted "Toy Packaging," in which she echoes the complaints of millions of adults regarding the draconian plastic that encases children's toys.
Brad Paisley Christmas: I grew up listening to country music, and while I stick pretty much to bluegrass any more, I still enjoy listening to Brad, the country guitar god with a sense of humour. Sure, the country Christmas classics like "Santa Looked a Lot Like Daddy" are here, but Paisley creates new classics like "Penguin, James Penguin." Probably my favorite song, it details the adventures of Santa's helper penguin, a dashing, tuxedo-wearing spy. I can't wait to play and sing it with my kiddo.
Andrew Peterson Behold the Lamb of God: This is Mr. Cool's favorite Christmas album, and the one that doesn't go into storage after the Christmas season. We listen to it all year. The rare, and beautiful, Christmas concept album, it covers the full story of "the true tall tale of the coming of Christ." In addition, Peterson conquers the most boring of all parts of the Bible: a long list of begats in the song, "Matthew's Begats."
Barenaked Ladies Barenaked for the Holidays: I love all of the previous albums (and the one to come), but this is the album I love to put on the most. They do a version of "Do They Know It's Christmas?:! They sing "Deck the Halls," only the only words they use are Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young! They sing a song about oppressed elves with Michael Buble! Seriously, this album is great, and includes the most beautiful Hanukkah song I've ever heard--"Hanukkah Blessings."
Mindy Smith My Holiday: Mindy Smith is one of the new folk/pop/country chanteuses out there, and I discovered her through her blistering cover of Dolly Parton's "Jolene," one of the best songs ever, in my opinion. Her albums are great, and her Christmas album not only covers the classics well, as in her smokin' take of "What Are You Doing New Year's Eve," but offers great new songs, including "Follow the Shepherd Home," a beautiful and true Christmas song.
Now, of course, I still love the classics, like Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Amy Grant, Michael W. Smith, Mannheim Steamroller, and Russell Newport, but in addition to these newbies, my all-time favorite Christmas Album is:
Handel The Messiah: When I was growing up, my mom had a two-record version of The Messiah, and I loved to put on those records and listen. The soaring "Every Valley Shall Be Exalted," the classic and stirring "For Unto Us a Child is Born,"and, of course, everyone's favorite "Hallelujah! For the Lord God Omnipotent Reigneth." When I was in college, I went down to Arizona before Christmas with my grandparents, and I was able to see a performance of The Messiah with my grandma. It was amazing to see and hear it sung live. I probably listen to this more than any other Christmas album.
What do you like to listen to this most wonderful time of the year?