The McCrary Sisters
"A Very McCrary Christmas Rounder Records"<
"Keb' Mo' Moonlight, Mistletoe & You Concord Records"<
"Los Lobos Llegó Navidad Rhino Records"
Every year it becomes increasingly difficult to find Christmas Holiday recordings, but after extensive research (not really :) I found three new Holiday albums from three dissimilar artists: The McCrary Sisters, Keb’ Mo’ and Los Lobos.
“A Very McCrary Christmas” is the first Holiday album by the McCrary Sisters; it’s also their first recording for Rounder Records, and was produced by three-time Grammy winner Scott Billington. The album features guest spots by Pastor Shirley Caesar, Steve Crawford, Jerry Douglas, Alison Krauss, Buddy Miller, and Keb’ Mo.’ The Sisters cover classic Christmas songs like “Go Tell It On the Mountain,” “Oh Come, All Ye Faithful,” “Away In a Manger,” “O Holy Night,” “What Child Is This?,” and “Jesus, Oh What a Wonderful Child” all served with generous portions of Southern Gospel, R&B, Pop, and Soulful Jazz.
Speaking of Keb’ Mo’s who appeared on “A Very McCrary Christmas,” his “Moonlight, Mistletoe & You” is also Keb’s (sort-of first physical CD) collection of Holiday music. It’s a mixture of original songs and under-the-radar cover tunes that are somewhat obscure. The album is merry like honey for the Holiday season with yuletide greetings and (as expected,) is sprinkled with tasty servings of the Blues. Half the songs are new Christmas tunes that Keb’ recently authored and recorded. Though it should also be mentioned that this is not Keb’ Mo’s first Christmas/Holiday recording. Eight years ago (2011) Keb’ Mo’ did release a digital-download only EP titled: “The Spirit of the Holiday” that included an amusing tune called “Shopping on Christmas Eve,” that isn’t included on this new collection.
Los Lobos observes the Holidays with songs rooted in Salsa, and Tex-Mex styles that are mostly sung in Spanish. There's warmth and good cheer on these Holiday tracks. Though I must say that I prefer Los Lobos when they are plugged-in on just a handful of tracks, as the majority of “Llegó Navidad” is comprised of acoustic material. The album does include a new original tune titled "Christmas and You," plus they also decided to close the album with the overly familiar "Feliz Navidad." So if you're in the market for something to spin at your Holiday party that's a change of pace: “Llegó Navidad” could fill-the-bill for your festive/party family, friends and for you too.
So there you have it. Somehow and someway we’ve squeaked through another year of the latest Christmas/Holiday recordings that “mostly” relates with the music we appreciate and enjoy. Let’s hope next years 2020 batch of Holiday music is more bountiful than 2019. As it’s been a sparse decade or so of recent Holiday/Christmas albums. Meaning less musical Christmas presents for you and for me too.
For 20 years Bob Putignano has been pivotal with his Sounds of Blue radio show. Hear new Homegrown Sounds of Blue internet radio shows: http://soundsofblue.com/radioshowsmp3.htm and at John Sinclair’s www.RadioFreeAmsterdam.com & www.TaintRadio.org Previously a contributing editor at Blues Revue, Blueswax, and Goldmine magazines, currently the Music Editor for the Yonkers Tribune www.YonkersTribune.com Bob was also the 2003 recipient of the “Keeping the Blues Alive” award (given by the Blues Foundation in Memphis) Putignano can be contacted at: BobP@SoundsofBlue.com
Putignano can be contacted at: BobP@SoundsofBlue.com