I’m rather stubborn and opinionated about the music I listen to. I know what I like and I like what I know, (anybody spot that one?) so I can get agitated by the consumerist approach to Holiday Music. I really can’t stand anything that’s overly cheesy or that doesn’t feel genuine the rest of the year, so December is always interesting for me.
It doesn't help that I work in retail, which seems to be a veritable breeding ground for overproduced hackneyed tripe.
So here’s a list of my top 5 Christopher Approved Christmas Albums. I hope you try out something new.
1. So Elated – Bewildering Light.
Very stark and simple arrangements of known songs along with a few originals that bring a different perspective to this age old story.
2. Andrew Peterson – Behold the Lamb Of God.
This may be the most important Album on my list. Andrew essentially grew this album over the course of 3 Christmas tours before the label let him record it. It tells the story of Christmas, starting with the Creation, recalling the Israelite slavery in Egypt and even through Moses, which sets the listener in a place of expectation before you hear the Birth of Christ. I especially love the song ‘Labor of Love’ emphasizing the fact that it truly was labor on Mary’s part.
3. Jars of Clay – Christmas Songs.
This album is very hit or miss for me, but I chose to include it because the better parts are worth the weak parts. I really love ‘Love Came Down at Christmastime,’ ‘Peace is Here,’ ‘Gabriels Message’. It sidesteps for me when they try (and fail) Paul McCartney’s ‘Wonderful Christmastime.’ What a dumb song.
4. Sufjian Stevens – Hark! Songs for Christmas.
This is technically 5 Ep’s, but it could fit onto 1 album if he trimmed it down a little. I really don’t know where to start. The lighthearted way he plays with the material is very endearing.
5. Vince Guaraldi – A Charlie Brown Christmas.
C’mon. This never gets old. I’m pretty sure I can still recite Luke 2 from memory with all of Linus’s changes and vocal inflictions. I can also butcher, (pretty beautifully, I might add) Linus and Lucy. You know the one song that every knows, but doesn't have any words.