2006-12-14 / Arts & Entertainment

New Seasonal Music Debuts In Time For The Holidays

By The Associated Press

Here’s a sampling of recently released seasonal recordings:

Sarah McLachlan, “Wintersong” (Arista/Nettwerk)

Sarah McLachlan’s offering is a win-ner. “Wintersong,” her first studio LP since 2003’s “Afterglow,” is suited for listening to while the snow falls outside and the hot chocolate is still warm.

Her covers of John Lennon’s “Happy Xmas (War Is Over)” and Joni Mitchell’s “River” are also treats as is her single, the title track “Wintersong.”

Matt Moore, AP Writer

George Strait, “Fresh Cut Christmas,” (Hallmark/MCA)

Like perennial Christmas favorites Bing Crosby and Nat King Cole, Texas music veteran George Strait possesses a vocal style as mellow and smooth as hot-buttered rum. His lived-in style is perfect for those who like their yuletide classics as if delivered in a wool sweater while sitting in front of a crack-ling fire. On his third holiday album, “Fresh Cut Christmas,” Strait concentrates on standards like “We Three Kings,” “Deck the Halls” and “We Wish You a Merry Christmas,” giving them all just a hint of Lone Star twang. The album will only be sold at Hall-mark Gold Crown stores.

Michael McCall, for the Associated Press

James Taylor, “At Christmas” (Columbia)

James Taylor’s sweet voice proves well suited to lighthearted holiday fare with his collection, “At Christmas.”

He lends his top-notch folk to the spiritual “Go Tell It On The Moun-tain’’ and a stirring version of Joni Mitchell’s “River,” and avoids the pitfall of sounding corny on “Auld Lang Syne.”

But the highlight is easily the ro-mantic duet, “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” — featuring a wonderfully playful turn by Natalie Cole. The song’s theme of curling up by the fire with a loved one may be clichĂ©, but that’s exactly what “At Christmas” makes you want to do.

John Kosik, AP Writer

Brad Paisley, “Brad Paisley Christmas” (Arista)

Six of the 11 tracks on “Brad Pais-ley Christmas’’ are standard holiday offerings — like “Winter Wonderland,” “Silent Night,” and a rocking instrumental of “Jingle Bells” that showcases Paisley’s guitar virtuosity. There’s also a two-decades-old audio clip of 13-year-old Brad singing his composition “Born on Christmas Day” mixed in with the 34-year-old Paisley.

Paisley fan’s stocking.

Tom Gardner, AP Writer

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