Country Christmas albums 2016: Kacey Musgraves, Chris Young and more

By: AXS Contributor Nov 11, 2016
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Somewhere along the line, Old Saint Nick sent out a memo to all country stars titled "2016 is the Year of the Christmas Album." From veteran acts like Garth Brooks and Reba McEntire to relative newcomers Kacey Musgraves and Brett Eldredge, artists are giving holiday classics their own spins, tinseled-flourishes and admirable snow-globe attempts at capturing the season's heart with full-length releases. Some will dazzle brighter than the star atop your evergreen and others will undoubtedly fade faster than a busted string of colorful lights. Above all, however, we should all feel a little bit warmer and a tad fuzzier this Christmas season.

Need a crash course on this year's must-hear Christmas albums? AXS.com has you covered on all the well-packaged essentials below. Read on for a snappy breakdown on all your favorite artists and their forays into egg-nog affair.

  • Celebrate Christmas
    One of the defining country groups of all time lays the twang on thick with sterling covers of Christmas classics like "Joy to the World" (f
    Spring House Music Group

    One of the defining country groups of all time lays the twang on thick with sterling covers of Christmas classics like "Joy to the World" (featuring a sizzling guitar solo), "Away in a Manager" and "The Hallelujah Chorus." Even today, they are the gold standard when it comes to harmonies; no one does it better.

  • The Greatest Gift of All
    The expected pop-country flavor is appropriate for contemporary audiences. With Gary LeVox's voice front and center (supported with delightf
    Big Machine Label Group

    The expected pop-country flavor is appropriate for contemporary audiences. With Gary LeVox's voice front and center (supported with delightful harmonies from his bandmates), this disc is cheeriness at its best.

  • White Christmas Blue
    Surprisingly, this is only the legend's second-ever holiday album--many acts, veteran and otherwise, phone in a Christmas set for a quick bu
    Sony

    Surprisingly, this is only the legend's second-ever holiday album--many acts, veteran and otherwise, phone in a Christmas set for a quick buck. But not Loretta. Her versions of such standards as "Winter Wonderland," "Away in a Manger" and "Frosty the Snowman" are undeniably her; straight versions in a traditional blanket are expected but quite refreshing. Even in this setting, Loretta doesn't try to be anything she's not. It's joyful and triumphant, indeed.

  • It Must Be Christmas
    Young's simple, yet soulful, reading of Christmas is as comfy as the scar he's wearing on the album cover. His booming tenor wraps snugly ar
    Sony

    Young's simple, yet soulful, reading of Christmas is as comfy as the scar he's wearing on the album cover. His booming tenor wraps snugly around the classic melodies of yesteryear with tenderness and charm.

  • To Celebrate Christmas
    Nettles' undeniable lung power is used to great effect on rock-strewn facelifts such as "Go Tell It on a Mountain" (an apt opener for the co
    Big Machine Label Group

    Nettles' undeniable lung power is used to great effect on rock-strewn facelifts such as "Go Tell It on a Mountain" (an apt opener for the contemporary model) and heartfelt, gut-wrenching moments as found with "The First Noel" and "O Holy Night." Her voice is not weary, but the wisdom etched into her phrasing is (and thank goodness for that).

  • My Kind of Christmas
    Everyone deserves some Reba Christmas music this year. With a voice that can pack a wallop, she kicked off the season with the first holiday
    Big Machine Label Group

    Everyone deserves some Reba Christmas music this year. With a voice that can pack a wallop, she kicked off the season with the first holiday-themed LP of the country music year. And for everyone else, the bar is set incredibly high. Let's hope you can live up to those expectations.

  • Christmas Together
    Somehow, this is Brooks and Yearwood's first-ever collaborative album. How did that happen? But seriously, if you want your holiday full of
    Pearl Records

    Somehow, this is Brooks and Yearwood's first-ever collaborative album. How did that happen? But seriously, if you want your holiday full of heart and soul, this might be the collection for you.

  • Glow
    If you prefer your Christmas classics polished with a Frank Sinatra edge, Eldredge (one of the best male voices today) delivers beyond all i
    Atlantic Records

    If you prefer your Christmas classics polished with a Frank Sinatra edge, Eldredge (one of the best male voices today) delivers beyond all imagination His vocal is soulful and larger than life; you'll definitely hate going out in the storm after listening to this. Even the Meghan Trainor-assisted "Baby, It's Cold Outside" is heartwarming.

  • A Very Kacey Christmas
    In one of the year's most musically-adventurous productions, Musgraves uses her craft to elevate and reinvent the standard holiday affair, l
    Mercury Records

    In one of the year's most musically-adventurous productions, Musgraves uses her craft to elevate and reinvent the standard holiday affair, like "Let it Snow" and "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas," with sleigh bells, wooden blocks and even some accordion flavor. It's certainly a refreshing moment, that one--and of course, she covers the Chipmunks.

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