Believe it or not, it’s already about time for sleigh bells to start ringing and holiday parties to start swinging. Even though Thanksgiving is still a week away, today I saw a Rizzoli’s Christmas Tree tent being set up with a truckload of live trees still tied up like turkey roulades.
One thing we can look forward to this season is a variety of fresh takes on traditional Christmas music. Here are five brand new Christmas albums that will appeal to a variety of tastes. Each of these would work well as party tunes depending on the atmosphere you want to create.
First up, Pentatonix is one of very few groups that blow my mind with their musical abilities. This famed a capella group delivers an energetic, contemporary pop rendition of many classic songs in A Pentatonix Christmas. They often layer in unexpected musical phrases and rhythms that make these oft-heard songs sound utterly fresh. For example, they open the album by giving an old hymn like “O Come, All Ye Faithful” a tribal pop flavor.
She & Him
Zoey Deschanel of She & Him would soothe even Scrooge’s heart with her jazzy, mellifluous tones. Christmas Party contains a 60/40 blend of easy listening and more upbeat remakes of holiday hits from decades past. This compilation exudes a vintage vibe and utilizes light, honest instrumentation, primarily guitar picking, and soft, jazzy percussion. Aptly named, Christmas Party is the perfect background music for a hip, feel-good party.
Another new Christmas album with a vintage flair comes from the country singer, Kacey Musgraves. A Very Kacey Christmas is a charming and playful nod to the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s. She combines nostalgia with relaxed swing, a light Hawaiian flavor, and even makes use of an accordion and Spanish guitar in “Feliz Navidad”. Guest singers Leon Bridges, Willie Nelson and The Quebe Sisters add their voices to the mix, complementing her warm, easy voice.
If your idea of a white Christmas means laying out on the white sands of the Caribbean, then you’ll appreciate Jimmy Buffett’s humorous, island vibe in ‘Tis the SeaSon. With Jamaican rhythms, steel drums and a little electronica, Jimmy Buffett takes classic songs like “Jingle Bell Rock” and pairs them with a margarita. It’s easy to imagine celebrating Christmas under a Tiki hut while listening to this album.
Harmonious country boys, Rascal Flatts, bring a big sound to some beloved Christmas hymns in The Greatest Gift of All. A huge assortment of instruments accompanies the trio, including trumpets, guitars, piano, organ, drums and more. But the instrumentation does not outshine their broad country-pop vocal ranges. A little honky-tonk and shoo-bee-doo-wop make an appearance in a few songs, which add a playfulness to this album that can best be described as a celebration.