Christmassy albums which aren't about Christmas.
December 2, 2021 3:47 AM   Subscribe

For various grief related reasons our family is finding it difficult to listen to Christmas music this year but we would like to listen to albums which feel festive, in other words the artist didn't set out to make a Christmas album with jangly bells and talk of presents and trees but suits the cosiness of the period anyway. Taylor Swift's Evermore seems to fit this mood perfectly or London Town by The Magic Theatre but it could be any genre.
posted by feelinglistless to Media & Arts (25 answers total) 23 users marked this as a favorite
It may just be a personal association, but Dave Grusin's The Gershwin Connection used to be this for me.
posted by thelonius at 3:54 AM on December 2, 2021

The original Tubular Bells is, for no reason I can identify, Christmassy for me.
posted by ManyLeggedCreature at 4:10 AM on December 2, 2021 [3 favorites]

George Winston's December.
posted by archimago at 4:27 AM on December 2, 2021 [9 favorites]

And, following along from George Winston, anything in the Windham Hill "Winter Solstice" series.
posted by Logophiliac at 5:14 AM on December 2, 2021 [4 favorites]

In our family, Five Leaves Left by Nick Drake is a Christmas album. Something about it feels like cold crisp morning air and chilly evenings by the fire.
posted by saladin at 5:34 AM on December 2, 2021 [5 favorites]

This time of year I often listen to Thomas Newman's original score for Little Women (1994)—it's very cozy with obvious winter/holiday themes but also wistful and not overtly Christmas music.
posted by telegraph at 5:39 AM on December 2, 2021 [4 favorites]

Maybe something by The Canadian Brass?
posted by Winnie the Proust at 5:59 AM on December 2, 2021

Enya's Shepherd Moons and Watermark.
posted by SPrintF at 6:22 AM on December 2, 2021 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Perhaps I should also have mentioned ScarJo's Tom Waits cover album Anywhere I Lay My Head.
posted by feelinglistless at 7:14 AM on December 2, 2021

Frost and Fire by The Watersons might work.

It's a collection of traditional UK folk songs marking various holidays across the calendar, including some that are explicitly about Christmas, but they're not mainstream famous Christmas songs, and the arrangements are all incredibly sparse & a cappella - not a jingle bell to be heard.
posted by terretu at 7:18 AM on December 2, 2021

I think of the Ella Fitzgerald Song Books albums as holiday music. I'm not sure I can defend that categorization.
posted by eotvos at 7:36 AM on December 2, 2021 [2 favorites]

Not an album, but one of the most gorgeous winter songs of all time:
Gordon Lightfoot’s Song for a Winter’s Night.
posted by BostonTerrier at 7:51 AM on December 2, 2021 [4 favorites]

A nice compilation of Patsy Cline tunes works well for this, I've found.
posted by Caxton1476 at 7:58 AM on December 2, 2021

Pearly Dewdrops' Drops by the Cocteau Twins is my favorite Christmassy but not about Christmas jam. It just really captures the vibe for me.
posted by cakelite at 8:03 AM on December 2, 2021 [1 favorite]

Every year around xmas-eve I listen to Ryuichi Sakamoto's soundtrack for 'Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence'. It's not very Christmas-y, but it is rather solstice-y. It has a kinda introspective tone.
posted by ovvl at 9:02 AM on December 2, 2021 [3 favorites]

I have strong holiday associations with Bill Evans Alone
posted by thivaia at 9:02 AM on December 2, 2021 [2 favorites]

Lively fiddle music scratches this itch for me. I like this Lena Jonsson & Brittany Haas album a lot--it's a mix of American & Swedish folk tunes. I also think Stéphane Grappelli works very well for this, especially the early Hot Club stuff.
posted by miles per flower at 10:12 AM on December 2, 2021

The album Muna by Markéta Irglová has this feel for me.
posted by imalaowai at 10:12 AM on December 2, 2021

I'm not sure if this playlist fits the bill. It's a winter themed, not Holidays.
posted by Hop123 at 12:31 PM on December 2, 2021

This previous AskMe for Christmassy non-carols has a bunch of suggestions.
posted by chrisulonic at 1:29 PM on December 2, 2021 [1 favorite]

I don't know if it falls too close on the Christmas side, but I absolutely adore Over the Rhine's "Blood Oranges in the Snow". It's melancholy (one song is about a deceased father), but hopeful, and the songs are entirely original in content and music except for "Bethlehem". They have at least one other "Christmas album but no standards" but Blood Oranges is my favorite.
posted by wnissen at 2:28 PM on December 2, 2021

Wintersmith by Steeleye Span (it's a concept album based on Terry Pratchett's Tiffany series of books, one of which explicitly revolves around seasons/winter solstice, I love it)
posted by Cheerwell Maker at 5:39 PM on December 2, 2021 [1 favorite]

It's old, but I really like A Winter's Garden by Loreena McKennitt.
posted by Rumi'sLeftSock at 6:36 PM on December 2, 2021

Perhaps the opposite of festive, but I enjoy Tim Eriksen's (of Cordelia's Dad) Star in the East
posted by art.bikes at 7:55 AM on December 3, 2021

Response by poster: Thanks everyone, this is amazing. Take care.
posted by feelinglistless at 3:03 PM on December 3, 2021

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