For those fans of Ska and Ska Punk, there's quite a substantial list of holiday tracks to get your black and white (or black and tan) on. The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Less Than Jake, and The Slackers have done some fine work in that particular direction. And, lest we forget, our friends from The Fayetteville Ska Alliance did that amazing CD a couple of years ago, "Merry Happy Jolly Good Time" and, if you haven't already, you should definitely pick up a copy via Amazon, CD Baby, or wherever you can get ahold of it.
I don't know who all remembers this other than me, but there was a time record labels were pressuring Tom Jones to put out a Christmas record. Oh, he's done the odd holiday track here and there. Tom did an incredible "Mary's Boy Child" on the David Foster Christmas Album in 1993. And a respectable "Baby Its Cold Outside" working with Cerys Matthews a few years later. He even had a go at John Lennon's "Happy Christmas (War Is Over)". And, if you're old enough to remember the TV show (or just bought the DVD), you might remember Tom's heartfelt rendition of "A Child's Christmas In Wales". But, several years back, Tom having just signed a deal with Island records, there were rumors that the label was nudging him to do a Christmas record. What he emerged with, back then, was the modern gospel record "Praise & Blame"--what many felt was his best album in decades. I know I did.
It'll be interesting to see what Tom and Roseanne come up with this time. But early word is that Tom will record several of the Wexford Carols, considered some of the finest and most beautiful Christmas music ever written, and that he'll be joined by Indie folk rocker David Gray on a few of the selections. I hope Tom can bring the passion of "Praise & Blame", the tenderness and intimacy of "A Child's Christmas In Wales", and the fun that's always been a part of who he is.
And, so, OK, maybe you're more up on the newer artists than I am, but I had never heard of Kat Tingey. So I did what I always do...I dove deeper down the rabbit hole to learn more. And, after sampling tracks from her 2009 album "Stranger", I couldn't be more excited. You really need to hear "Undone", one of the best songs I've heard in a while. Don't sample it, just buy it. Just sayin'.
Kat's sound could be said to be sort of an Indie Folk Rock/Pop kinda thing, but, even though I tried to get as much as I could into that, it doesn't nearly do her justice. Her songwriting is strong and her vocals capture just the right balance of confidence and vulnerability.
The Christmas album is tentatively titled "Ring Out Wild Bells". Expect some originals and some fresh arrangements of more familiar fare ("Angels We Have Heard on High" for one). 12 tracks in all.
Just about every year, I learn of an upcoming Christmas release from an artist I'm not otherwise familiar with and they become my hope for the season--my hope for something brilliant and new and beautiful, like a previously undiscovered flower. Not too many years back that artist was Mindy Gledhill and since her Christmas album (which did not disappoint), I've become a huge fan. I've got a strong feeling this year's artist for me is Kat Tingey. Pay her a visit on Facebook or her all new website, grab the free download of "My Way", and prepare for what promises to be a pretty awesome Christmas album.
It wouldn't be Christmas without at least one former American Idol contestant putting out a Christmas album and the first to announce their intentions this year is Contemporary Christian artist Joanna Beasley. Her Christmas record, as yet untitled, is due out November 28. Joanna released a Christmas single, "Hallelujah Christmas", last year.
Sadly, Deniece Williams failed to reach her pledge goal for her Kickstarter funded Christmas album. That doesn't mean the album is dead, necessarily, but its not exactly full of life, either. Let's hear it for the girl. She's got a darn good set of pipes on her (one of the few artists with the potential of equalling Whitney Houston in a sing-off, when they were both in their prime). Meanwhile the Tom Wopat/John Schneider Kickstarter Christmas record is right on schedule for funding--halfway through the campaign and halfway funded. Somehow, you just know them Duke boys are going to pull it out.
You may have heard that (Rumour Has It) Adele is expected to drop a new album later this year. It's been over three years since her last. Adele, herself, started the rumors by tweeting on her birthday, "Bye bye 25... See you again later in the year." It's widely been speculated that the new album will drop in October or November and will be titled "25" (as her first two albums were titled after her age when recorded). She's expected to drop the album without any prior notice.
Now.... what if its a Christmas album? I mean, sure, it could end her career. But what a ballsy move that could be. She's a new Mom, so she's automatically got to be thinking about kids and Christmas. And "25"? Get it? And, let's face it, she's only going to be 25 once and she's not likely to be 12 again. Only Nixon could go to China? Maybe only Adele could deliver a Christmas album when fans and critics alike know that's the one thing she'd never do. Certainly not at this stage of her career. Which is exactly why it would be genius. Of course, it only works if its brilliant. Worst case scenario, it bombs. And so what? She's earning enough from her first two albums that I doubt she'll ever be broke.
While strolling through the 'net the other day, I came across the cached image below which appeared, apparently, on the Gamble-Huff web site. It wasn't linked to any story or anything and its not anywhere to be found on their website anymore. Why Gamble-Huff? Why Adele? Why the heck not? So, with the caveat that the Brits call any album that drops during the season a Christmas album, regardless of contents, here's looking forward to an Adele Christmas album this year. As Judy Tenuta used to say, "It could happen."