Holiday music albums
Baby, it’s cold outside . . . what better time to stuff the stocking of that special someone with a music-related treat to curl up with and enjoy. If you have a rock, pop, country, hip-hop, or jazz fan on your list, one of these books, box sets, DVDs, reissues, or holiday albums will become a part of the soundtrack for his or her 2016 — and, by extension, yours as well.
Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings, “It’s a Holiday Soul Party”
Just look at them. Don’t you wish you could be at the party already in progress on the cover of Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings’ new album? There’s Jones beaming as she holds a shiny present, surrounded by her longtime backing band, all in natty red matching suits, trimming a Christmas tree.
“It’s a Holiday Soul Party” mirrors the spirit of that festive cover image. Punctuated by blasts of horns, sly guitar lines, and Jones’s panoramic voice, it crackles with a loose, organic energy as if recorded around that very Christmas tree.
Jones and her band are working within the realm of holiday staples here, but often in service of turning them inside out. They swing a wrecking ball into “White Christmas,” erasing the familiar melody and replacing it with a driving rhythm section and joyful call-and-response backing vocals. (Check out its stylish music video, too.)
They also put their spin on the season with originals such as the opening “8 Days (of Hanukkah),” a serious contender for the funkiest ode ever to the Jewish holiday. And “Ain’t No Chimneys in the Projects,” which first appeared on 2011’s “Soul Time!,” is a spiritual cousin to James Brown’s “Santa Claus Go Straight to the Ghetto.”
By nature, holiday albums have a shelf life of a month, two at the most. But “It’s a Holiday Soul Party” is one of the few you would consider listening to year-round.
More holiday albums
India.Arie, “Christmas With Friends” The soulful R&B singer-songwriter gets by with a little help from her friends on her first holiday release, including Joe Sample, Michael McDonald, Tori Kelly, and Trombone Shorty. (India.Arie brings her Christmas show to the Wilbur Theatre on Dec. 13.) (James Reed)
The Braxtons, “Braxton Family Christmas” It’s a family affair for the Braxton women — including Toni, Tamar, Towanda, Trina, and Traci — on their R&B holiday album. An a cappella rendition of “O Holy Night” is a spine-tingling highlight. (J.R.)
The Count Basie Orchestra, “A Very Swingin’ Basie Christmas!” Johnny Mathis and Ledisi are among the vocalists who add some zing to this already sizzling jazz collection of holiday music rendered in Basie’s syncopated swing. (J.R.)
Placido Domingo, “My Christmas” The world renowned tenor brings his mighty voice to bear on seasonal favorites, with help from elves like Idina Menzel, Jackie Evancho, and son Placido Domingo Jr. (Sarah Rodman)
Tony Hadley, “The Christmas Album” We know this much is true: The Spandau Ballet frontman gets into the spirit of the season with familiar classics and two new original songs. (S.R.)
Nick Lowe and Los Straitjackets, “The Quality Holiday Revue Live” If you let out a particularly memorable whoop at the Brit pop-rocker’s holiday show last year, check and see if it made it onto this live recording from the Paradise Rock Club. (S.R.)
Joe Perry, “Joe Perry’s Merry Christmas” The Aerosmith axman is no Grinch, putting his signature rocking spin on this four-song EP that includes “Run Run Rudolph” with Johnny Depp on guitar. (S.R.)
Revels, “A Revels Christmas in Wales” Under the direction of George Emlyn, the Boston-based Revels head to Wales for their latest holiday offering, ranging from hymns and lullabies to dance tunes and children’s songs. (The album is a companion piece to the Christmas Revels, which will be performed at Sanders Theatre Dec. 11-27.) (J.R.)
LeAnn Rimes, “Today Is Christmas” The country star wrote two new original songs for this set, as well as inviting Aloe Blacc and Gavin DeGraw into the studio to share the microphone — and we’re guessing, some egg nog. (S.R.)
The Brian Setzer Orchestra, “Rockin’ Rudolph” Put a little stray cat strut — and a whole lotta swing — into your celebration with this latest yuletide collection, which includes the fizzy, Flintstonian “Yabba-Dabba Yuletide.” (S.R.)
Patty Smyth, “Come on December” The Scandal singer comes out of hibernation with this, her first new album in 16 years: a set of smoky and warm classics and new songs. (S.R.)
Train, “Christmas in Tahoe” This Amazon exclusive finds Train transformed into a sleigh, as Pat Monahan and the gang cover a wide range of classics from Donny Hathaway’s “This Christmas” to the Pretenders’ “2000 Miles.” (S.R.)
Rhonda Vincent, “Christmas Time” Get ready for a down-home holiday with the bluegrass singer and multi-instrumentalist’s new album, featuring cameos by Dolly Parton and Willie Nelson, among others. (J.R.)
Wintery Songs in Eleventy Part Harmony, “HARK” Jennifer Kimball leads a cast of local singer-songwriters and string players on their first full-length holiday album, performing everything “from sacred to secular, reverent to irreverent, ‘Silent Night’ to Sinatra, the Nutcracker to indie-rock stalwarts White Stripes.” (The group is funding the album through a Kickstarter campaign that’s online till Dec. 4. And they’ll perform selections at Club Passim on Dec. 17.) (J.R.)