Music News 11/21/2018



Every year, more artists try their hand at Christmas music—some opt for reworking the chestnuts, some braver artists write all new songs.

Both Rodney Crowell and JD McPherson have written albums of completely new material:

Rodney Crowell, CHRISTMAS EVERYWHERE (New West, $15.99) – Crowell was inspired to write his first Christmas song by a melody spontaneously played by his grand-daughters (which resulted in “Come Christmas”). In rapid succession, he composed a whole album full of songs, like “Christmas for the Blues” (and one with poet and memoirist, Mary Karr, “Let’s Skip Christmas This Year”). Musically, Crowell envisioned something “Spike Jones might have recorded,” with the help of guitarist John Jorgenson. 

JD McPherson, SOCKS (New West, $15.99) – Brings a strong old style R&B and rockabilly feel that will have you dancing around the tree. Songs include “Hey Skinny Santa!” “Ugly Sweater Blues,” “Bad Kid,” and a great duet on “Claus vs Claus” that gives equal time for Mrs. Claus.

John Legend, A LEGENDARY CHRISTMAS (Columbia, $13.98) – John Legend mixes in some originals like “Bring Me Love” and “Purple Snowflake” with holiday favorites. He brings guests: bassist Esperanza Spalding on “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” and Stevie Wonder on harmonica on “What Christmas Means to Me.”


Eric Clapton, HAPPY XMAS (Surfdog, $15.98) – Clapton puts his bluesy touch on some classics such as “Merry Christmas Baby,” and “White Christmas,” and includes some originals. In the middle of the bluesy tracks is something different, a dance track, “Jingle Bells (In Memory of Avicii),” a memorial tribute to the EDM DJ, who, like Clapton, was vocal about his battles with alchohol.

Pentatonix, CHRISTMAS IS HERE! (RCA, $13.98) – The a capella quintet Pentatonix love singing Christmas music; Christmas is Here! is their third holiday album in the last four years. They have also become a pop holiday phenomenon.

NOTE: Pentatonix will be headlining two shows at the Anthem on December 2 and 3.

The Choir of King’s College Cambridge, 100 YEARS OF NINE LESSONS & CAROLS (King’s College, 2 CDs, $17.98) – Mixing brand new performances and historical recordings going back to 1958, featuring Directors of Music David Willcocks, Philip Ledger and Stephen Cleobury. The two CDs are filled with traditional favorites and world premiere commissions by Judith Weir, Arvo Pärt, Thomas Adès, and John Tavener.