Holiday music releases on the horizon


Traditions vary from family to family, but many families share a love of holiday songs and carols at this time of year. Many notable performers have lent their voices to timeless classics or created entirely new songs that have gone on to become perennial favorites. Every year new singers showcase their talents with Christmas releases, and 2014 is no different. Holiday albums available this year include country artists’ collaborations, a carol collection from a singer-songwriter and a surprise swing-jazz release from an actor and voiceover artist.

· Grammy-winning vocalist Michael W. Smith teams up with a bevy of country music greats on his “Michael W. Smith & Friends: The Spirit of Christmas.” Popular artists Lady Antebellum, Jennifer Nettles, Little Big Town, and even U2’s Bono appear on this album, which features an orchestral flavor. The album is Smith’s fourth holiday release.

· Those looking for another Christmas album to freshen up their collections can look to “Sings Christmas Carols” from Mark Koselek. The singer-songwriter and frontman for the band Sun Kil Moon lends his baritone and guitar chops to several classic Christmas carols, including “Oh Come All Ye Faithful” and “The First Noel.”

· Seth MacFarlane may have Oscar and Grammy nominations to his name, but soon he will have a Christmas album to his credit as well. MacFarlane recorded “Holiday for Swing” during the holiday season last year. The release follows MacFarlane’s critically acclaimed musical debut, “Music Is Better Than Words.” The actor collaborates with Norah Jones, Sarah Bareilles and others on the tracks, which have a jazz-blues feel.

In case you happened to miss the release of the variety of Christmas albums last year, choose among “I Wanna Go Surfin’ With Santa,” by the Hollyberries; “Horror Xmas,” from The Misfits; “Snow Globe,” by Erasure; or “On This Winter’s Night,” from Lady Antebellum.