15 new christmas albums for 2022

15 New Christmas Albums for 2022

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Vivian Green and her co-producer, Kwame Holland, wrote four of the five songs on her EP “Spread the Love.” Togetherness (and absence) is on her mind in all of them. She’s eagerly anticipating it in the Motown-meets-reggae “Spread the Love (Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza)” and in the hand-clapping, pointillistic “Everybody’s Gathered.” And she bemoans being separated — even by her own choices — in the torchy “Around the Tree” and in the tinkling march “No Holiday.” Whether she’s convivial or lonely, she’s always got eager backing vocals for company. PARELES

The holidays arrive with plenty of twang and reverb on Chris Isaak’s suavely retro “Everybody Knows It’s Christmas.” Isaak wrote most of the songs, offering a little comedy (“Almost Christmas,” about last-minute shopping, and “Help Me Baby Jesus,” about a plastic yard display) and some convincing lonely-guy melancholy (“Holiday Blues,” “Wrapping Presents for Myself” and “Christmas Comes But Once a Year”). The sound harks back to 1950s country and rockabilly, with Isaak’s voice echoing Roy Orbison, Buddy Holly, Chuck Berry and, in a big-finish “O Holy Night,” Elvis Presley, completing a slyly poised period piece of an album. PARELES

Alicia Keys brings her coziest voice to the largely secular songs on “Santa Baby.” Her delivery is high, breathy and playful, and she allows herself to show scratches and imperfections. The productions often tuck elaborate arrangements under a low-fi veneer, like her version of “The Christmas Song,” which begins as a piano-and-voice, mistakes-and-all version and suddenly sprouts strings and voices. The album touches on old-school soul — her gospelly, tear-spattered versions of “Please Be Home for Christmas” — as well as the willful eccentricity of “My Favorite Things,” which has modal-jazz piano chords, a wordless version of the Rodgers melody and spoken words about favorite things like “feeling so good, we drama-free.” Four songs of her own — including a reprise of “Not Even the King” from “Girl on Fire” — are about longing and affection, and she radiates fondness in “December Back 2 June” and “You Don’t Have to Be Alone.” Throughout the album, she invites loved ones closer. PARELES

The brothers Nelson approach “O Come All Ye Faithful” with a pair of billy clubs, beating upon each syllable as if playing a mirthless game of Whac-a-Mole. Not all of this holiday collection is so violent — it includes a handful of shimmery tracks from their elders, father Ricky and grandfather Ozzie; and also a soothing “This Christmas,” sung with Carnie and Wendy Wilson, Brian’s daughters. The Nelson brothers’ take on “Blue Christmas” and “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer” are lightly comforting, but Lord, please protect “Away in a Manger” and “Mele Kelikimaka.” CARAMANICA

The gentleman country kingpin Thomas Rhett is Nashville’s MVP of singing within the lines. And he might have gotten away with it on this EP, his first Christmas collection in a decade-plus career. But on “Winter Wonderland,” he’s nudged along by a horn section that’s more curious than he is. And if you detect a touch of ambition on “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year,” maybe it’s because the band simply will not stop rejoicing, so what’s he got to lose? CARAMANICA