Building on her well-represented holiday catalog, Christmas with Judy Collins is essentially a reissue of the folk artist's 2000 release All on a Wintry Night, padded with two additional songs. All 14 tracks from Wintry Night are featured here in their original sequence with the addition of a new single, the western-tinged "Angels in the Snow" leading off the album, and a stirring, largely a cappella version of "Amazing Grace" closing it out. Fans of Collins' rich, warm voice will enjoy some of the more stripped-down arrangements, which feature her singing to a simple piano accompaniment on lesser-known carols like "In the Bleak Midwinter" and "Cherry Tree Carol." On the other hand, the dated synthesizer sounds on tracks like "Come Rejoice" and "Good King Wenceslas" sound rather homogenous and the spoken intro over the faux-strings of "Away in a Manger" is far too heavy-handed to take seriously. Fortunately, the bulk of the album's 16 tracks favor the more minimalist arrangements keeping Collins' lovely voice at the forefront without much distraction.
Monsigny and Sedaine's brilliant opera-cotnique Le Deserteur, was an immediate and lasting success for its melodic charms and musical variety, its blend of comedy with moments of great sentiment and pathos, and its intellectual radicalism prefiguring the humanitarian ideas of the 19th century Romantics. This recording features the musical items only from this forerunner of the 'rescue' opera, in which the heroine Louise extricates her fiance Alexis from prison and a death sentence.
Given the glut of "String Quartet Tribute to So and So," "Electronic Tribute to Some Crappy Band," and "Pickin' on Whomever" "tributes," it's somewhat surprising that no one has tackled Pavement in a tribute album – not until now, at any rate. And even more surprising is that it's not one of those aforementioned knockoffs; it's a heavyweight jazz session with James Carter, Cyrus Chestnut, and Reginald Veal, three of jazz's finest players on their respective instruments (rounded out by the talented Ali Jackson on drums). You may be asking, "what the hell are a bunch of jazzbos doing playing Pavement tunes?" The short answer, "making a great album." Remember, underneath their slacker image and loose, lo-fi aesthetic, Pavement's best tunes were memorable and melodic with interesting (though sometimes ramshackle) arrangements.