December 14, 2006

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James Taylor, James Taylor at Christmas
Columbia Records, 2006

If you're willing to foreĀ­go rock-rebel-consumerism for the holidays and swear off tormenting your SO with that disgusting Smashing Pumpkins/Sting/whoever compilation, you can't get much more sparkly than James Taylor's second Christmas album. This was test-driven on the way to Boston Ballet's new version of The Nutcracker (which, by the way, is the most amazing production in several moons, a very colorful take on the 1892 Russian production) and it passed all tests for fluff-jazz ("Winter Wonderland," "Santa Claus is Coming to Town") and hairy-legged fogey-folkie dourness ("River"). There are, however, a couple of weak spots if you want to get picky, the first being Natalie Cole's drugged-sounding effort on "Baby It's Cold Outside," and the second an unnecessarily rinky-dink "Go Tell It On the Mountain," which should have been nixed in favor of something that didn't involve the ever-subdued Taylor assuming the duties of a one-man Baptist choir. B

— Eric W. Saeger