Freegal Finds: Christmas Music

Posted on: Tuesday, December 10, 2013 at 1:00:00 pm

If you're looking for Christmas music on Freegal, here are some selections, both old and new, that might interest you. Click an image to view the tracklisting on Freegal.

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Winter Loversland by Tamar Braxton

"Sleigh Ride" and "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town" get traditional vocal arrangements with contemporary beats, while some songs -- like "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas," including an undeniably stunning closing note, and a serious "Santa Baby" -- are played straight. A medley of "Away in a Manger" and "Little Drummer Boy," apart from what sounds like light fingersnaps, is all vocals as well, more an impressive showcase for Braxton's talent and versatility than anything else. Braxton co-wrote the album's lone original, a ballad titled "She Can Have You."

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Merry Christmas by Mariah Carey

Fans will surely approve of Carey's renditions of slinky secular songs like "Christmas (Baby, Please Come Home)" and a nicely subdued "All I Want for Christmas Is You." But where she really surprises is in her unadorned delivery of a passel of traditional carols, highlighted by "Silent Night" (which she sings quietly, avoiding the temptation to wail those high notes) and "Jesus, Oh What a Wonderful Child." Materials/CDs/Civil Wars - Tracks in the Snow.jpg

Tracks in the Snow by The Civil Wars

This limited edition holiday selection featuring the title track and, "O Come O Come Emmanuel," is only accessible from the library at the Freegal site.

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Wrapped in Red by Kelly Clarkson

It is to Kelly Clarkson's credit that she waited a decade to deliver a seasonal platter, but 2013's Wrapped in Red is worth the wait; a testament to her confidence as an interpreter. Generally, the 14 songs here emphasize Clarkson's skills as a full-throated diva -- the arrangements are bold and brassy, as is her delivery -- but when the tempo slows and the arrangements scale back, she's perhaps even more alluring, turning "Blue Christmas" into a sweet fireside crawl and effortlessly overshadowing the overmatched Ronnie Dunn on "Baby It's Cold Outside."* Materials/CDs/Ella Fitzgerald - Wishes You a Swinging Christmas.jpg

Ella Fitzgerald Wishes You a Swinging Christmas by Ella Fitzgerald

It'd be hard to imagine a happier wish than the one this jazz vocal legend offers her listeners on this urbane-yet-homey collection of holiday favorites. The First Lady of Song recorded these tunes in 1960, at the peak of her interpretive powers. As such, she puts her singular stamp on everything from a sultry vamp like "What Are You Doing New Year's Eve" to the sweet and cozy "The Christmas Song." Even potentially shopworn standards like "Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town" sound fresher when they're coming from Ella Fitzgerald.

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Silent Night: Songs for Christmas by Mahalia Jackson

[O]ne cannot help but be moved by the power and passion with which Mahalia Jackson sings "Sweet Little Jesus Boy" and the spiritual "Go Tell it on the Mountain." Her rendition of "Silent Night, Holy Night" is simply inspirational.* Materials/CDs/Jewell - Let It Snow.jpg

Let It Snow: A Holiday Collection by Jewel

Fourteen years after her first Christmas album -- the first was Joy: A Holiday Collection, arriving just four years into her career -- comes Let It Snow: A Holiday Collection. The two Christmas albums share the same subtitle as well as the same sensibility: Jewel isn't looking to reinterpret the songs we know and love, but rather deliver satisfyingly sweet versions of melodies embedded in our subconscious. To these tunes -- including the title track, "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas," "Sleigh Ride," and a "White Christmas" featuring Vince Gill -- she throws in a couple originals, including "It's Christmastime" and "Blue Christmas Glow."* Materials/CDs/Mannheim Steamroller - Christmas Celebration1.jpg

Mannheim Steamroller Christmas Celebration

With its arrangements of standards and readily accessible new pieces, Mannheim Steamroller's Christmas Celebration combines a variety of styles with a heavy mix of instruments and voices. Noteworthy are the choirs and soloists featured on various tracks, including the Cambridge Singers and Johnny Mathis on "O Tannenbaum" as well as lesser-knowns like Germany's Bielefelder Kinderchor and the University of Michigan Glee Club. All told, it's a full, pretty-paper assault, an aural smorgasbord laid out with bold strokes and many a glittering bauble.

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Barbra Streisand: A Christmas Album

You haven't heard "Jingle Bells" until you've heard Barbra Streisand's version. Sounding more like a bebop Santa on A Christmas Album's rousing opening track, Streisand keenly races through the stanzas, toying with the words, pushing the song's tempos, and generally having a lot of fun. After that, she gets down to the more serious side of holiday offerings, with tracks that include "My Favorite Things," "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas," "Silent Night," "The Christmas Song," and others. At times this world-class singer can bowl you over with her range, sensuality, and emotion, and when she visits "Ave Maria" or closes with "The Lord's Prayer," it's easy to see why this is one singular Streisand record that has traveled so well for so many years. A classy classic.

Item descriptions from Amazon. *Item descriptions from All Music Guide.

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