There were a ton of new Christmas albums released in 2016. From Rascal Flatts to Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood; From Jennifer Nettles to Chris Young, there were many worth listening to. Here's our favorites of this yuletide season.
Chris Young - It Must Be Christmas (RCA Nashville)
One of the year's best-selling albums, It Must Be Christmas showcases the talented vocalist singing many songs he grew up singing with his family. There are a couple of new songs on the project (“Under The Weather” and the title track) but everyone comes to a Christmas album to hear new renditions on old classics and Chris has those in spades. Working with I’m Coming’ Over co-producer Corey Crowder, Chris’s renditions of “The Christmas Song” and “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” are blended in with duets featuring Alan Jackson (“There’s A New Kid In Town”), Brad Paisley (“The First Noel”) and Boyz II Men (“Silent Night”). All that being said, the closing “It Must Be Christmas has a chance at becoming a yearly yuletide hit.
Kacey Musgraves - A Very Kacey Christmas (Mercury Nashville)
She’s released two unique albums so why should her Christmas album have been any different. It features classic yuletide favorites like “Let it Snow, Let It Snow and Let It Snow” along with more ‘playful’ choices like the Chipmunks standard “Christmas Don’t Be Late,” “I Want A Hippopotamus for Christmas,” and “Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer” along with a handful of originals which could become classics, “A Willie Nice Christmas,” “Ribbons And Bows” and “Christmas Makes Me Cry” are three of the four new songs but it is “Present Without A Bow,” a song written and performed with Leon Bridges” which is the clear highlight of the record.
Garth Brooks & Trisha Yearwood - Christmas Together (Pearl/Gwendolyn)
Billed as their first duets project, the album features standard fare and some fun ones like “Santa Baby” and “Ugly Christmas Sweater.” Their take on “Baby It’s Cold Outside” may be expected but it’s still delightful.” So is “Marshmallow World,” “What Are You Doing New Years Eve” and “The Man With The Bag.” The album is delightful and while nothing really new, having a record with multiple Garth and Trisha duets just gets me hoping they’ll release a full-length country duets album in the near future.
Jennifer Nettles - To Celebrate Christmas (Big Machine Records)
This isn’t Nettles first Christmas project but it’s distinctively different than Sugarland’s Gold and Green. There’s a bluesy, soulful vibe here, from “Go Tell It On The Mountain” to “Celebrate Me Home” and “O Holy Night” while “Go Tell It On The Mountain” features Andra Day and “Little Drummer Boy” features Idina Menzel (“Let It Go”). It’s an interesting album which is made even more interesting by the new Dolly Parton song “Circle Of Love.” It’s sweet and unique and a nice quiet moment on this collection of traditional fare.
Brett Eldridge - Glow (Atlantic Records)
This is probably our favorite Christmas album of the year. Read our full review here.
Home Free - Full of (Even More) Cheer (Columbia Records)
Fellow The Sing Off Winners Pentatonix have made a career out of releasing Christmas records and Home Free, the country a cappella vocal group, revisits some of their “Full of Cheer” album with their new member and add in in “Colder Weather” and the hymn “How Great Thou Art?” to the 10 track. The songs are all stunning and it’s easy to see how Home Free won that NBC show a few years back. They’re stunning.
Loretta Lynn - White Christmas Blue (Legacy Recordings)
The second release of 2016 (after Full Circle) showcases Loretta Lynn at her best. Still a great singer, Loretta sings some classics including revisiting some she’s known for including “Frosty The Snowman” and “To Heck With Ole Santa Claus.”