September 28, 2020

Pentatonix – A Pentatonix Christmas Deluxe – RCA

Four Score
By Kristi Kates | Nov. 25, 2017

You can’t really go wrong with Pentatonix for vocal harmonies, and with nearly every Christmas carol featuring harmonies en masse, the pop ensemble is a great pick for a holiday album. On this set they spend half the tracks sticking to the classics: “Away in a Manger,” “Deck the Halls,” “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” — and the other half putting their own twist on more modern faves like “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” and “Let It Snow.” ***

Various Artists – Holidays Rule Vol. 2 – Capitol
In a nice switch from the usual lineup of pop mainstream artists that generally surface on holiday compilations, this collection is a little more left field, with big names like Paul McCartney, Jimmy Fallon, and The Roots (who team up for a new take on “Wonderful Christmastime”). You’ll also find festive tunes by Grace Potter (“Christmas Moon”), Vera Blue (“A Winter Romance,”) Andrew McMahon, and The Decemberists. ***

Casting Crowns – It’s Finally Christmas – Reunion
This short set from Casting Crowns combines holiday compositions old and new, opening with a beautiful medley rendition of “Gloria” and “Hark the Herald Angels Sing.” The Christian rock band performs its versions of “What Child is This” and the always stirring “O Holy Night.” New Christmas songs include “Somewhere in Your Silent Night,” the nostalgic-yet-modern “It’s Finally Christmas,” and “Make Room,” featuring Matt Maher. ** ½


98 Degrees – Let It Snow 
The boy band — now really more of a man band — is back with a brand new Christmas album. The men stick tight to the mix-it-up formula, combining familiar refrains like the title track, “What Child is This,” and “The First Noel” with pop holiday hits like “Little Saint Nick” and “Run Rudolph Run.” Their takes on “Mary Did You Know” and “River” are standouts. ***





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