Someday everyone who ever sang or played a note will have recorded a Christmas album and, despite how much I enjoy Christmas music, this isn't necessarily a good thing. Every year there is far more Christmas music released than the world will ever need so when a good seasonal disc arrives in my house it is really appreciated.
Diana Krall's Christmas Songs is one of the good ones and while it won't make you forget Ella Fitzgerald's 1960 gem, Ella Wishes You a Swinging Christmas, Krall's album is one of the most instinctively swinging Christmas albums ever released by a female jazz vocalist. This CD has Ella's ghost all over it. Krall's voice is not quite as smooth as Fitzgerald's but her singing and piano playing prove she has talent in abundance.
My only beef with Christmas Songs is the same one that I have with most new Christmas albums. Hardly anyone records Christmas carols anymore so every new Christmas CD seems to rehash the same old holiday pop songs. Krall's CD offers no new songs, nothing obscure, just the same tired old offerings. Do musicians, or more likely the record companies, have a fear of offending non-Christians by singing carols? Has political correctness ruined any chances for future great performances of "Silent Night," "O Holy Night," Adeste Fideles" and all of the other great carols?" I'm not a religious person but these traditional songs are still great music and very important to the holiday.
This apparent political correctness has caused many artists to round out their Christmas albums with non-Christmas songs. Krall closes her disc with the child's lullaby "Count your Blessings." It's not a Christmas song and no matter how you slice it neither is Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah." Trumpeter Chris Botti added an instrumental version of "Hallelujah" to his holiday release several years ago. Just because it uses that holy word as its title doesn't make it a Christmas song, and although it's not on Krall's disc, "Baby, It's Cold Outside" has become another overplayed trendy seasonal tradition.
I'm not trying to dump on Krall because Christmas Songs really is a fine CD. It's just that with so little new Christmas music being written, combined with the fear of singing religious Christmas songs because someone may be offended, every new holiday CD has the same dozen worn out tunes. How many versions of "Jingle Bells," "Winter Wonderland," "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town," and "Let It Snow" do we need?