Holiday album reviews to get you in the right mood.
Idina Menzel, “Holiday Wishes” (Warner Bros.)
It’s fitting that “Frozen” star Idina Menzel would release her Christmas album in 2014.
Menzel brings the soaring voice that made her famous this year in the Disney hit movie to her Christmas album, “Holiday Wishes.” The Tony Award winner puts her own spin on holiday classics like “Silent Night” and “Do You Hear What I Hear?”
But she also includes songs that are surprisingly appropriate for a holiday record, like Joni Mitchell’s “River” and “When You Wish Upon a Star” from Disney’s “Pinocchio.”
One of the highlights is Menzel’s duet on “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” with Michael Buble. The song’s lively big-band sound will get couples on the holiday-party dance floor.
Menzel also partners with Kenny G on two songs: “White Christmas” and her version of Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas Is You.” You can tell Menzel had fun with this pop track, adding freestyle lyrics at the end.
Darius Rucker, “Home for the Holidays” (Universal Nashville)
Stuffed with classic covers “Winter Wonderland,” “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” and even “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch,” Darius Rucker’s “Home for the Holidays” isn’t going to set any sales records, but it’s easy-enough listening this time of year. There are plenty of slide guitar, strings, horns and a languid pace that would sound great pumped into the speakers at your local mall.
The two originals here – “What God Wants for Christmas” and “Candy Cane Christmas” – aren’t standouts, but they don’t offend, either. The highlight is Sheryl Crow’s duet on “Baby, It’s Cold Outside.” With its tinkling piano and flirtatious back-and-forth lyrics, I’d love to see the music video.