record reviews Pop music releases for holiday season


Associated Press

Here’s a collection of holiday albums reviewed by The Associated Press.

Sia

Album: “Everyday Is Christmas”

Grade: B

Sia has proven she’s a powerhouse in pop music, so it’s no surprise that her holiday album of original songs sounds as good as any contemporary pop project.

“Everyday Is Christmas” features Sia’s strong songwriting skills, with tracks ranging from cute to touching.

“Let’s go below zero and hide from the sun, I love you forever where we’ll have some fun,” she sings on the ballad “Snowman.”

Using the holidays and things around it as metaphors is one of the album’s themes. On another soft gem, “Snowflake,” Sia sings sweetly, sounding like a mother who is sending her child off to college or elsewhere.

Sia worked on the songs with longtime collaborator Greg Kurstin, who has also lent his magical touch to Adele, Kelly Clarkson, Pink and other superstars. They put together a 10-track set that will put you in a happy mood.

The lead single and opening track, “Santa’s Coming for Us,” is a festive adventure; “Ho Ho Ho” is the perfect, whiskey-flavored party song; and “Underneath the Mistletoes” is an R&B gem.

The most adorable song on the album? “Puppies Are Forever.”

It features dogs barking cutely near the end of the song and includes the lyrics, “Puppies are forever, not just for Christmas.”

Fact.

— Mesfin Fekadu

Smokey Robinson

Album: “Christmas Everyday”

Grade: B

Smokey Robinson is a Christmas album veteran, even if those he recorded with The Miracles are from decades ago. “Christmas Everyday” is his first solo album in the category and it’s a fine addition to the canon.

The Robinson-penned title track dates back to 1963, its Motown roots ringing out clearly with help from husband-and-wife team Us The Duo, while New York soul traditionalists the Dap-Kings spice up “You’re My Present,” another Robinson composition.

There are a few songs you’ll find on nearly all Christmas albums, some given not-so-usual arrangements. “White Christmas” undergoes a very danceable Brazilian makeover, which makes one wonder if it ever snows in Rio de Janeiro, and “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” includes its seldom-sung jazzy introduction and a fun solo by Trombone Shorty.

Versions of Donny Hathaway’s “This Christmas” and Charles Brown’s “Please Come Home for Christmas” further amplify the soul quotient and throughout the album Robinson’s rhythms will help you forget your blues.

— Pablo Gorondi

Gwen Stefani

Album: “You Make It Feel Like Christmas”

Grade: B

Gwen Stefani’s Christmas album, “You Make It Feel Like Christmas,” could have been delivered with a little more of her signature sass, but it’s a solid release nonetheless.

Clearly, Stefani is comfortable with a standard rendition of Christmas classics. There is no real effort here to depart from the standard delivery on songs like “Jingle Bells” and “Let It Snow.”

Stefani fronts a big-band approach on the album. Aside from a few lighthearted yelps here and there, the tracks are routinely rendered and somewhat punchless.

The only song that reveals any of the hollaback girl’s heart is “When I Was A Little Girl,” which she co-wrote. More tender, personal tracks like this would have been a present indeed.

— Ron Harris

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