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Detail from the CD cover for Cee Lo's “Magic Moment”
Detail from the CD cover for Cee Lo's “Magic Moment”

Music

Deck your halls with 4 new holiday albums Add to ...

SOUL

Cee Lo’s Magic Moment

  • Cee Lo Green
  • Warner
  • Three and a half stars

Cee Lo Green wishes to come inside. Christina Aguilera hesitates to let him in. “Baby, it’s cold outside,” he persists, snow up to his knees. And she relents, for the round soul singer has a charismatic way about him. He rides Joni Mitchell’s bittersweet River, about escape and relief, with respect. Run Rudolph Run is a red-nosed, Rhodes-rocking romp. He nods to Motown (What Christmas Means to Me) and to Donny Hathaway (This Christmas). Magic moments, there are more than one.

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ALT-ROCK

  • A Cup of Kindness Yet
  • Hey Rosetta!
  • Sonic/Warner
  • Three and a half stars

Nobody expects a seasonal release, especially one with just four songs, to represent a progression in an artist’s career. But the introspective indie rock of the impassioned Newfoundlanders Hey Rosetta! does exactly that. Carry Me Home bounces in a Paul Simon way as it advocates kinship. The First Snow is an elegant piano piece, about the kind of significant reflection that can happen with a simple, annual meteorological event. I hear creatures stirring here. I hear doubts being diminished. I hear it louder, from Hey Rosetta!, year by year.

STANDARDS

  • Merry Christmas, Baby
  • Rod Stewart
  • Verve/Universal
  • Three stars

Well, of course, who wouldn’t wish to hear Rod Stewart rooty-toot-tooting and rummy-tum-tumming? Who would turn down a smooth-and-scratchy walk through the winterland with Stewart and Michael Bublé, with slick producer David Foster trailing behind in a string-loaded sleigh? Who can refuse the sharp-soul pairing of Cee Lo Green and the Rod who is known to be mod? And who is not curious to hear an exhumed Ella Fitzgerald makes smooth inquiries as to a peroxide Londoner’s party plans (What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve?)? There may be a few who resist these and other charms, but there are too few objections to stop this classy disc from reaching blockbuster achievement. It’s going happen anyhow – just let it snow.

BLUES

  • Santa’s Got Mojo 2
  • Various artists
  • Electro-Fi
  • Three stars

Santa is a peculiar fellow, on that we can all agree. On the meaning of Christmas, and on the variations of its traditions, sentiments are across the board. The vamping singer Shakura S’Aida, for example, leaves us red-faced with her notion of what should be sliding down her chimney when it comes to Be My Santa Claus. Harrison Kennedy suggests Hot Cider Cinnamon as the season’s country-soul libation. And the harrowing piano boogieist Julian Fauth despairs that the religious spirit of the holiday has been lost to the commercial concerns of Hallelujah in the Mall. Twelve mostly upbeat tracks of mostly original material by Canadian blues artists of varying types are anything but standard.

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