Music gift guide: Holiday music

For music fans, holiday shopping can feel a lot like personal shopping — and after a few hours, one can devolve into the other with frightening ease. The world of music has something for everyone. Here is a sampling of holiday-themed albums to enjoy this season:


Twelve strings for fingerpicking . . .

John Fahey, “Christmas Guitar Soli With John Fahey”

Starting in 1968, the late guitar master released a handful of instrumental Christmas albums rendered in his inimitable fingerpicking style. This new 14-song compilation culls from those various albums and ends up with a single collection for people who think they hate holiday music.

Eleven (at least) new Christmas classics . . .

Nick Lowe, “Quality Street”

The beloved British singer turns on the charm on his first holiday album, featuring a mix of staples and originals, all delivered in Lowe’s impossibly elegant croon. This is the rare Christmas album that knows the holidays aren’t just about gooey sentiments; there’s room for humor and reflection (and rockabilly), too.

Ten lords a-singing (a cappella) . . .

Straight No Chaser, “Under the Influence: Holiday Edition”


The vocal dectet decks the halls on this holiday EP follow-up to their earlier album of the same name with help from Colbie Caillat, Cee Lo Green, Paul McCartney, and, through the magic of tape, Otis Redding.

Nine songs for pogo-ing . . .

Bad Religion, “Christmas Songs”

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Out with the jingle bells, in with the ramped-up guitars and breakneck tempos as the California punk-rock band turns Christmas carols inside out. They really put the exclamation point in “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing.”

Eight reasons to forgive her yodeling . . .

Jewel, “Let It Snow”

Who will save your soul? Jewel will on this warm and far-reaching Christmas collection on which the “You Were Meant for Me” singer brings some pop, country, and jazz panache.

Seven-year-olds emoting . . .

Christmas Revels, “The Road to Compostela: A Galician Christmas Revels”

As a companion to the annual Christmas Revels performances, which run Dec. 13-27 at Sanders Theatre, the album features stately selections from this year’s show, which focuses on music from Spain.

Six French horns . . .

Boston Pops Orchestra, “A Boston Pops Christmas — Live From Symphony Hall”

Conductor Keith Lockhart leads the acclaimed orchestra and the Tanglewood Festival Chorus through a winter wonderland of popular yuletide favorites including the zippy “Zat You, Santa Claus?”

Five golden tunes . . .

Mindy Smith, “Snowed In”


The country-pop singer-songwriter mixes something old (“Silent Night”) with something new (“Tomorrow Is Christmas Day”) on her glistening new holiday EP.

Four disco calls . . .

Erasure, “Snow Globe”

The duo’s electro-pop, with several original tracks, is a perfect soundtrack for a chilly-but-jaunty winter’s eve.

Three Christmas albums . . .

Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, “It Feels Like Christmas Time”

For their third time at the holiday well, the swinging hepcats pay homage to classics and comics including fizzy takes on three seasonal favorites, Rudolph, Frosty, and the Grinch.

Two music kings . . .

Susan Boyle, “Home for Christmas”

Boyle is joined by king of Christmas music Johnny Mathis, and (posthumously) King of Rock ’n’ Roll Elvis Presley on this gentle adult contemporary set.

. . . and a duck in a dynasty.

‘Duck Dynasty’ cast, “Duck the Halls: A Robertson Family Christmas”

The merch parade rolls on as Willie, Missy, Si (on a killer “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch”), and the gang tackle comic originals and classics. They also invite George Strait, Alison Krauss, and Luke Bryan to their down-home “Ragin’ Cajun Redneck Christmas” party.