Jackie Evancho "O Holy Night" (Columbia)
The 10-year-old "America's Got Talent" prodigy wraps her preternaturally mature-sounding soprano around a quartet of classically minded seasonal/religious numbers on the first disc of this budget-priced CD/DVD package. The DVD includes her AGT audition and some performances from the show. Short, but impressively and reverentially sweet. And, yes, she nails the money note in "O Holy Night."
The "Glee" Cast "Glee: The Music, The Christmas Album" (Columbia)
You love the show or you don't. The cast charms, or makes you scramble for the channel button on the remote. Their sugarplum sweet holiday album won't change either response. Lea Michele's Rachel gets the most time in the spotlight, and stops the show with her "O Holy Night."
Jimi Hendrix "Merry Christmas and Happy New Year" (Experience Hendrix)
This abbreviated session includes two passes at his 1969 medley of "Little Drummer Boy/Silent Night/Auld Lang Syne," featuring Hendrix's Band of Gypsys co-horts Billy Cox (bass) and Buddy Miles (drums). "Three Little Bears," a playful original, is an "Electric Ladyland" outtake that's been out of circulation for a quarter century and captures him in 1968 with bassist Noel Redding and drummer Mitch Mitchell, before the Jimi Hendrix Experience disbanded. It's 16 minutes of guitar-shredding fun, largely for Hendrix die-hards.
Dan Hicks and the Hot Licks "Crazy for Christmas" (Surfdog)
The Bay Area hipster goes off the map for most of the smart songs on this elegantly swinging outing. The perfect accompaniment to a holiday martini gathering.
Indigo Girls "Happy Holly Days" (Vanguard)
Amy Ray and Emily Sailers, aka the Indigos, apply their rootsy folk-country-bluegrass sensibility winningly to a handful of originals, a few carols and Woody Guthrie's playful "Happy Joyous Hanukkah." Not every new idea works, but they've got the right spirit.
The Irreconcilables "Merry Ex-Mas" (Merry Ex-Mas Records)
This ad hoc group of studio musicians and songwriters get, and often give, a kick out of reveling in the predicament of making it through the holidays after, or during, a divorce. Titles including "Hark the Hell Has Just Begun" and "Frosty My Ex-Wife" give you an idea of where they go with these 10 twisted takes on the Yuletide spirit.
Annie Lennox "A Christmas Cornucopia" (Decca)