By Marcy Lovitch

Not really “feeling it” this holiday season? Tired of hearing the same old Christmas music wherever you go? Worry not. There’s actually a plethora of wintry and non-denominational treasures that you haven’t heard a million times on Muzac at the mall.

Pop/Rock

Being single at the holidays can be a drag, especially when it’s not by choice. You can take solace in the 80s’ sounding ballad, “Early Winter” by Gwen Stefani,from her 2006 solo album “The Sweet Escape”. It examines lost love as autumn fades into the colder, darker days of winter. On the other hand, if you did the dumping, then assuage your guilt with Taylor Swift, exploring regret, apology and the pain of leaving a relationship in “Back to December”.

Beloved rock songstresses who evoke the contemplative mood of the cold season include Tori Amos with her reflective “Winter,” a beautiful ballad on solo piano with Tori’s soulful lyrics (“Little Earthquakes”, 1992). Equally cool is Sarah McLachlan’s “Wintersong” album featuring 12 tracks about wintertime including a the glistening gems “Wintersong,” “Song for a Winter’s Night” and a cover of the Joni Mitchell classic, “River.”

Ambient Instrumental

If you’d rather chill without lyrics, there are plenty of ambient, new age and solo piano albums to explore. Grab a cup of hot cocoa, a cozy blanket and the beautiful piano solos from Michele de Wilton new release, “Snow Angel”. Tracks like “Snowfall,” “In the Bleak MidWinter” “WinterBlueGreen,” and the story of The Ice Maiden in “Waltz for Gerda and Kay,” will transport you into a winter wonderland for the soul.

Award winning artist and extraordinary voice Seay offers with “A Winter Blessing: Songs for the Season”, a festive, seasonal album celebrating all things winter and the holidays. Filled with Seay’s spectacular vocals, your heart will be filled with magic, love and light.

Beloved international concert pianist Danny Wright offers an evergreen favorite with “An Intimate Christmas”, bursting with both traditional carols and original compositions written for people whose stories moved him to create. If loneliness is what ails you, this album wraps its metaphorical arms around you and brings a quiet solace.

Windham Hill Records’ Winter’s Solstice collections (there are six volumes) offer relaxing instrumental selections from various Ambient, New Age and Jazz artists. Pianists George Winston, Liz Story and guitarist William Ackerman are just a few contributors to this mood-setting music series. It’s the perfect background accompaniment while curled up in front of a fire.

Retro classics

Once you’ve rocked and lulled through the selections above, perhaps you’ll be ready to get back out there in the spirit of the season. Consider revisiting a few of these old faves; so many artists have covered these songs that you can pick and choose your favorite versions.

“Baby It’s Cold Outside,” a pop standard by Broadway and Hollywood composer Frank Loesser never fails to get you in a snuggly, romantic state of mind. Some notable versions include the duet with Ella Fitzgerald and Louie Armstrong; the Bette Midler version (joined by James Caan) from the 1991 film, “For the Boys”, and the pairing of James Taylor and Natalie Cole.

Another timeless standard “Let It Snow” gets a big band-y, jazzy treatment from crooner Michael Bublé. Diana Krall gives the tune a more intimate treatment. For something even slower and more low key, check out John Legend’s cut of the Sammy Cahn/Jule Styne song.

“I’ve Got My Love to Keep Me Warm” by Irving Berlin has been sung by some of the best in the business: Billie Holliday, Judy Garland, Rosemary Clooney and Frank Sinatra, among others. Canadian songstress Lily Frost delivers a stylized, cabaret style version off of her album, “Lily Swings”. But perhaps the best of all is Rat Packer, King of Cool, Dean Martin’s swingy, smooth as silk recording….just press play on that one, and — in no time at all — you’ll be wanting to drag your sweetie – or some lucky stranger – over to the mistletoe.

About Marcy Lovitch:
Marcy Lovitch is a New York-based freelance writer; she is not crazy about Christmas music. She’s a contributor at: http://hiltonshead.blogspot.com/






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