This season's haul of holiday music includes new CDs from Faith Hill (Joy to the World), Sheryl Crow (Home for Christmas), Mary Chapin Carpenter (Come Darkness, Come Light), and many others. Let's have a listen.
Jingle All the Way (Rounder)
Béla Fleck & The Flecktones
Jazz-bluegrass virtuosos Béla Fleck & The Flecktones enlist Tuvan throat singers on "Jingle Bells," cover the Peanuts piano rag "Linus and Lucy," and make both Bach and Joni Mitchell's "River" sound brand new.
A New Thought for Christmas (Island)
Melissa Etheridge serves up a high-energy holiday tonic on A New Thought for Christmas, mixing classics ("Merry Christmas Baby") with peace-promoting originals ("Light a Light").
The Johnny Cash Christmas Specials 1976–1979 (Shout! Factory)
Johnny Cash and friends
Though Kris Kristofferson, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Steve Martin all appear on The Johnny Cash Christmas Specials, a four-DVD set, the Man in Black gets his most memorable assist from his six daughters on a rendition of "Silent Night."
A Swingin' Christmas (Sony BMG)
With sad-eyed élan, Tony Bennett croons a bittersweet group of holiday standards ("Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas," "All I Want for Christmas Is You") on A Swingin' Christmas, backed by the Count Basie Big Band.
This Christmas Aretha (DMI)
Aretha Franklin nails a few carols and belts out "Ave Maria" on This Christmas Aretha (DMI), but it's the gospel passion she brings to Thomas A. Dorsey's "The Lord Will Make a Way Somehow" that turns her first holiday album into a keeper.