Friday, December 7, 2012

Countdown Part Tres

Giving you some picks for the final weeks coming down the holiday stretch. I am hoping you are giving a few a listen and finding some new cheer and inspiration. For those that like to share music, it might be a chance to add a bit of stocking stuffing.

6) James Taylor - James Taylor at Christmas - for someone with a catalog as extensive as his, it was surprising to me that his holiday disc came out only a few years ago. Even more surprising is that his voice is as young and distinct as it was back on Sweet Baby James. Each song on it is nothing we haven't heard before - but never like he presents it. Joni Mitchell's River is elegant storytelling. His Jingle Bells takes on a blues kick. Some Children See Him is a still as a falling snowflake. Auld Lang Syne sounds as if it was written by and for him. Nary a bad choice on the entire album; a holiday with the boy next door.

5) Jane Monheit - The Season - some may scoff that her voice is too perfect or slick, but anyone that has seen her live can testify to her integrity as an artist. She can coo standards but when she kicks it up a notch and swings on The Man With the Bag, she shows just how versatile she is. On Moonlight in Vermont she casts a spell of winter romance. Practically bopping on Sleigh Ride or The Christmas Waltz. And then the ache that she brings on I'll Be Home For Christmas... She just makes it all seem easy.

4) Barbra Streisand - A Christmas Album - the most vintage CD on this entire list. She broke the trend of what holiday classics had become and brought her own incredible uniqueness. She still sounds fabulous, but there is something about those early years that cannot be bottled. Her opening blitz of Jingle Bells in less than two minutes must have sent listeners reeling in 1967. I remember endlessly listening to that final note of Silent Night on vinyl over and over. The surprise twist of The Best Gift in the last stanza. An angelic Ave Maria. She delivers a lyric with a conscious connection. Amazing now almost 50 years later!

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