Christmas Album features Johnny Cash performing a variety of holiday favorites. Featured performances include "Blue Christmas," "Silent Night," "Figgy Pudding," and "Here Was a Man," in addition to nine other songs. Those who appreciate Cash's gritty style of country should find this a pleasant addition to the holiday season.
Stile Antico's 2015 release on Harmonia Mundi, A Wondrous Mystery, is a sublime collection of Renaissance choral music for Christmas, presented in a pleasant mix of familiar German carols and a mass, with tracks interspersed for the sake of variety. This makes sense in consideration of the group's broad audience, which may know such popular hymns as Michael Praetorius' Ein Kind geborn in Bethlehem and Es ist ein Ros entsprungen, or Johannes Eccard's Übers Gebirg Maria geht and Vom Himmel hoch, yet be somewhat at a loss with the motet and Missa Pastores quidnam vidistis by Jacobus Clemens non Papa, a composer beloved by early music specialists but not exactly a household name for lay listeners. However, the a cappella performances are consistently beautiful and soothing throughout, and the quietly joyous mood of the music fits the album's title perfectly. The 12-voice choir's blend is well-balanced and transparent, and the ambience of All Hallow's Church, Gospel Oak, London gives an ideal resonance for the group's small size and close miking.
Cyndi Lauper closed out her Epic Records contract with this holiday album, which consists mostly of original compositions. Lauper seeks the Christmas spirit in some snowless locales, giving a Cajun sound to "Early Christmas Morning" and an appropriately tropical feel to "Christmas Conga." She favors folkie arrangements and is heard playing dulcimer, recorder, and ukulele, among other instruments, which lend a homemade feel to the tracks. Merry Christmas…Have a Nice Life! is an unusual but ultimately winning collection, rendered with Lauper' s typical cockeyed conviction.