This New England-based supergroup features Antje Duvekot, Meg Hutchinson, Anne Heaton, and Natalia Zukerman doing mostly winter- and holidays-themed music. Folks familiar with these singer-songwriters' individual work will be impressed with their collaborative versions of Christmas classics like "O Holy Night" and "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas."
The Indigo Girls have been making music for more than 20 years now, so it only makes sense it's about time they made a holiday album. The disc comes in a special holiday wrap package, and includes a couple of ornaments for your tree. Guest appearances from folks like Brandi Carlile and Janis Ian only add to the celebratory tone. Though there are songs on here that are more generic winter sons ("In the Bleak Midwinter"), it also features a number of Christmas classics ("O Holy Night" is a nice highlight), and a few Indigo Girls originals.
Banjo master Dirk Powell releases his first Christmas recording in 2010, featuring some classic holiday numbers as performed on fretless banjo. Before you start cracking banjo jokes, consider Powell's remarkable gift for traditional Appalachian arrangements, and the fact that Christmas music is wrought with traditional folk songs. According to press releases, this disc was originally intended as a gift to his family, but it turned out so good, his label decided to release it on Nov. 30.
Loreena McKennitt's second full-length holiday music album embraces some more obscure songs about winter and the midwinter festival celebration. As she told me in a recent interview, she made a concerted effort not to sing the most popular Christmas hymns, but instead she sought out songs that "cover[ed] a more broad spectrum for the season."
Bob Dylan made a Christmas album. Now he can hopefully check that one off his list and go back to what he does best: everything else. There has been quite a bit of discussion and anticipation surrounding Christmas in the Heart. Few people ever expected to hear a full album of Christmas songs from Dylan, who grew up Jewish and was a born-again Christian for a time, but who has, generally stuck to the more secular. Note, though: this album should be reserved for hard-core Dylan fans.
The Asylum Street Spankers would not have been the first folk band to come to mind if I was thinking of artists I'd expect to record Christmas albums, but their 2001 release A Christmas Spanking does a pretty fantastic job of delivering on the old standards and a few unexpected tunes, as well. Included here are re-arranged renditions of "Blue Christmas," "Baby It's Cold Outside," and "The Christmas Song," as well as some more obscure favorites like "Zat You, Santa Claus?" and "Mele Kalikimaka."
What can possibly be better to crank up while you drink your egg nog this holiday season than the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band playing "The Little Drummer Boy"? The classic folk outfit also tackles "It Came Upon a Midnight Clear" and "We Three Kings," among others. Guests include Alison Krauss and Vassar Clements.