The 9 Best Holidaysongs Albums of 2014

Every year, I add dozens of albums of holiday music to my massive Spotify playlist, and then I listen through them to figure out which ones I really love.

Top Holidaysongs 2014 (3)

Caitriona O’Leary, The Wexford Carols:The other eight albums are listed in no particular order, but this one is hands down my favorite of 2014. The most famous Wexford Carol is a 12th-century Irish song commemorating the birth of Jesus, and that’s on this album, but Caitriona O’Leary has also incorporated several other 17th- and 18th-century carols that haven’t been heard in a very long time, such as “Jerusalem Our Happy Home,” making this in some ways an album of new holiday songs. It’s also the most beautifully sounding record of this year’s holiday season, as Joe Henry’s production gives the proceedings an almost tangible atmosphere of place, with guest appearances by Tom Jones, Roseanne Cash, and Rhiannon Giddens. If you love the older, religious carols and seasonal folk songs, you will want to hear this album, and once you do, I’m pretty sure you’ll like it.

Various Artists, It’s Christmas on Mack Avenue: I don’t usually put multi-artist compilations on my best-of lists, but this assortment from the Mack Avenue Records jazz label is really top-notch, starting with a great jam on “Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town” led by Sean Jones on trumpet. There’s also a great one-two Vince Guaraldi suite, with Hot Club of Detroit’s country-swing “Skating” immediately followed by vibraphonist Warren Wolf’s “Christmas Time Is Here.” And the Christian McBride Trio’s instrumental romp through James Brown’s “Santa Claus, Go Straight to the Ghetto” is one of the most fun cuts from any artist this holiday season.

Anthony Hamilton, Home for the Holidays: This is easily my favorite R&B holiday album this year. “Spend Christmas with You” and the title track should immediately go onto pop radio’s Christmas playlists, and Hamilton’s cover of “What Do the Lonely Do at Christmas?” rivals the original version by the Emotions. The groove on the opening track, “It’s Christmas,” is a bit too gritty for me to imagine it’d be a radio hit, too, but it’s awfully darn infectious.

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10 December 2014 | listen to this |

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