Tuesday, November 11, 2008

On First Listen: New Christmas Albums from Anne Murray and Bela Fleck

Here are my first impressions of the first few new holiday releases I recently picked up. Later on in the year I'll revisit them to see if my initial opinions of them has changed or remained the same.

Anne Murray
- Anne Murray's Christmas album

Greatest Christmas Hits collection augmented with a few new tracks including a ill advised duet with Michael Bublé on "Baby It's Cold Outside". It might have worked better if the Canadian cougar had sang the lead, trying to entice the younger Bublé to stay the winter's night.

A terrific treat for Murray fans. Not particularly noteworthy for anyone not already smitten by her adult contemporary/country sound.

Béla Fleck And The Flecktones - Jingle All the Way

Quirky holiday release from virtuoso banjo plucker Béla Fleck and his top notch ensemble of Flecktones. Banjo, Bluegrass and World music fans will wee their pants in joy while listening to Fleck's inventive arrangements of such holiday chestnuts as Jingle Bells (featuring Tuvan throat singing!), Silent Night, Linus and Lucy, Sleigh Ride, Danse of the Sugar Plum Fairies, Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas and The Christmas Song. Fleck's "Jingle All the Way" is the perfect (mostly) instrumental alternative to a winter's worth of Mannheim Steamroller, Windham Hill and Kenny G.

Press Repeat:
Silent Night, Sleigh Ride, J.S. Bach's Christmas Oratorio (BVW 248 #41), Linus and Lucy

Press Skip:
Christmas Time is Here, What Child Is This/Dyngyldai