NY Times: Twangy, Jazzy, Stately, Holy For New Holiday Albums, It Takes All Kinds

THE holidays are a time for family, for reflection, for conspicuous consumption. For musicians, they’re a time to tackle old standards and see who comes out on top, or to try to record new ones, because there’s no bigger gift than hubris. Here, the pop and jazz critics of The New York Times reach down into their stockings and hope there’s no coal. (Prices may vary, depending on whether you’ve been naughty or nice.)

JON CARAMANICA

‘An Americana Christmas’ New West, $15.99 (LP $19.99)

Christmas in the jailhouse, Christmas alone on the range, Christmas broke and lonely, Christmas with a twangy guitar — that’s the Americana version of Christmas, and the compilation “An Americana Christmas” is a curatorial summation of that empathetic, analog, existential perspective. The album’s six new tracks — including Cord Lund’s orchestrally morose “Just Me and the Ponies,” Valerie June’s rusticated “Winter Wonderland” and the Common Linnets’ heartbroken “At Christmas Time” — align neatly alongside songs gathered from the Band, John Prine, Johnny Cash, Emmylou Harris and Bob Dylan (the polka-fied “Must Be Santa”). The songs tell stories, invoking rural landscapes and working-class lives; they moan and scrape and occasionally crack jokes, keeping everything handmade. JON PARELES