Saturday, December 19, 2009

Brooke White to Trans-Siberian Orchestra

I've been called a Christmas dork before, and I'm sure I'll be called one again - but why should the holidays be any different than the rest of the year? Here are a half-dozen albums (and an EP for good measure) that I'm playing in steady rotation this holiday season - from my stereo to yours, season's greetings!

BROOKE WHITE - iTunes exclusive holiday EP

Brooke White's 3-track holiday EP could melt even the iciest Grinch heart. She covers "Away in a Manger" and "Blue Christmas" with an angelic flutter, but the real gem is her original "California Christmas," a yuletide ode to palm trees wrapped in lights and making angels in sand - I never thought I'd hear a song that could combat the melancholy of spending holidays away from my family and their white Christmases in the northeast, but this one does it.

TORI AMOS - Midwinter Graces

Midwinter Graces is a masterful blend of classic Christmas and modern spunk, all hung by Tori Amos like white lights around a noble Christmas spruce. Her simple, baroque style emphasizes an angel's voice floating atop a cloud of piano and refined instrumentation, creating a whirlwind of spirited energy. One of the best holiday albums I've heard in a long time, and an instant season's classic.

STING - If on a Winter's Night

If On A Winter's Night isn't a Christmas album, it is a seasonal album, the classically-minded collection of carols, lullabies, hymns and confessionals embracing the spirit of winter and all of it's raw, unbridled energy. Instead of decking the halls with boughs of holly, Sting opens the castle window and bundles up in front of the fire, allowing the cold to creep through the centuries-old stone walls, and the music to pass like a blustering wind passes through a forest.


Since their humble beginnings more than a decade ago, Trans-Siberian Orchestra have been as much a part of my Christmas traditions as trimming a tree and last-minute shopping. Christmas Eve and Other Stories is the story of a young girl who can't be home for Christmas, a father who wants nothing more than to have her there, and a total stranger who makes it happen. The Lost Christmas Eve and The Christmas Attic complete TSO's Christmas trilogy of albums with similar brilliance, all three being the crowning jewels of my holiday music collection.

HALFORD - Winter Songs

The greatest thing about Winter Songs isn't the mere fact that it is a Christmas album from the Metal God, Judas Priest frontman Rob Halford. The greatest thing about this album is, with one or two exceptions, it's one that even sweet Aunt Edna could listen to without squirming in her seasonal frock. Halford's voice is custom-made for the album's traditional Christmas fare, and a handful of the performances are worthy of any cathedral celebrating a midnight Christmas mass.

Merry Christmas, and happy holidays!

To read more on each of these albums, please click here.

Paul Gargano is the National Music Examiner for
Click here to visit his Examiner homepage.

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