Published on December 22nd, 2011 | by Jordan Petersen0
Eight Christmas Albums We’re Listening To
I love Christmas.
Sure it’s wretchedly over-commercialized by corporations eager to fan the flames of unbridled consumerism, but that doesn’t just come out of nowhere. As the indisputable king of all holidays, “the most wonderful time of the year” is an easy target for exploitation. So instead of bemoaning the nauseating frenzy of greed that threatens to totally overwhelm what is most often referred to as the “spirit of Christmas” every year, let’s focus on that spirit — and enjoy what it inspires.
I’m not much of a gift-giver, but I’m absolutely a sharer. To that end, I put together a list of some of my favorite Christmas albums from the past ten years. It is in no way comprehensive, of course, but it’s a worthwhile sampling of some of the best original holiday-themed music from some great, lesser-known artists.
Bright Eyes, A Christmas Album
You won’t find a more haunting and imaginative collection of otherwise well-worn songs. It’s almost discouraging that an album I’ll only feel comfortable listening to a few weeks out of every year also happens to be one of the best things Bright Eyes has put out. Almost.
Dustin Kensrue, This Good Night Is Still Everywhere
Best known as the frontman for the band Thrice, Dustin has been doing strong solo work for a number of years now. This album is a raw blend of folk and blues that is both deeply spiritual and achingly nostalgic.
Enya, And Winter Came
There isn’t much familiar here, in the Christmas-y sense, but it’s unmistakably Enya. If you like Enya, you can’t miss with this album. And her decision to stray so far from the traditional holiday fare is admirable.
MercyMe, The Christmas Sessions
This is an astonishingly good modern Christmas album. MercyMe is an OK Christian band, but Sessions is a fantastic body of work. It is Christmas rock in a grand, orchestra and expansive style. For several years in a row, this was my most listened to holiday album.
Mindy Gledhill, Winter Moon
Several years ago, I emailed Mindy to specifically request a Christmas album. Her most recent work is proof I wasn’t the only one asking — and it’s a delight. That she is a loving mother of young children has clearly influenced her work. These songs often play like Christmas lullabies. Her brand of bold innocence is lovely.
Rosie Thomas, A Very Rosie Christmas
A Very Rosie Christmas has been my first introduction to Rosie herself. Not only are her arrangements brilliant and simple — and somehow pitch-perfect in their tonal choices — her voice is heart-breakingly beautiful. She pushes each decisive note through the colors of both sadness and joy.
Sarah McLachlan, Wintersong
It’s Sarah McLachlan, at her highest order. This could very well be her best album.
Sufjan Stevens, Songs for Christmas
If you don’t know about this collection of music, I don’t know what to tell you. It’s been a mainstay of alternative Christmas music-seekers for years now. Where have you been?
Of course, I also really dig a lot of the old familiar Christmas classics, but I find myself spending most of my own time on the above listed. After all, I figure I’ll get exposed to all the other, more traditional stuff in grocery stores and at home with family.
You know, we could make this a forum of sharing obscure Christmas gems with one another. We have the technology. Just go ahead and post what you’ve got in that fancy little box down there, and let’s all have … what do they call it? A Jolly Festivus! ♦ ♦ ♦
Listen to our editor’s Christmas playlist below on Spotify:
Red & Green
Jordan Petersen is SOUND’s resident sensei of all things movie-related. Recently graduated from Brigham Young University, he is now working towards a Master’s degree in film at Boston University. Check out Jordan’s filmmaking blog at twentyoneninety.blogspot.com.