Los Angeles Times

Music for every mood this holiday

This year's bounty of holiday albums includes offerings from pop music heavyweights such as Sia, Gwen Stefani, Fantasia, Reba McEntire, 98 Degrees and veteran rockers Cheap Trick.

But don't let familiar names prompt you to overlook rewarding new albums from lower-profile acts including Us the Duo, Lowland Hum and MARi.

Artists who make seasonal albums know their most loyal fans will snap them up no matter what; the yearly challenge is to what lengths they're willing to go to craft something worthy of consideration beyond ye most faithful.

Balsam Range

"It's Christmas Time"

(Mountain Home Music)

Bluegrass seems particularly in sync with the humility that's a cornerstone of the Christmas tradition. This North Carolina quintet proves that point in a half-dozen numbers. Check the minor-key wistfulness of Doc Watson's "Christmas Lullaby," the sprightly mountain lilt in the Stanley Brothers' "I'm Going Home, It's Christmas Time," and the earnestness in harmony-rich arrangements of "The First Noel" and "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing." The added layer

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from Los Angeles Times

Los Angeles Times3 min read
Movie Review: Roddy Doyle's 'Rosie' Is A Heartbreaking Tale Of An Irish Family's Resilience
Other films have bigger budgets and more glamorous stars, some even take home more awards. But few if any can quietly move you as much as "Rosie." A very fine socially conscious drama in the classic Irish tradition, "Rosie" tells a sobering tale that
Los Angeles Times4 min read
Henry Lozano, Who Engineered The Political Careers Of Emerging Latino Leaders, Dies
Henry Lozano, who spent much of his career aiding, counseling and influencing Los Angeles Latino politics and politicians, has died at his home in Whittier, Calif. Lozano, who died Monday, was 85. No cause of death was given. As a political insider,
Los Angeles Times4 min readLeadership & Mentoring
It Is Official: Majority Of Americans Think Women Are Just As Competent As Men, If Not More So
Good news, ladies: Americans now think women are just as smart and just as competent as men. And it gets better: Among the 25% of respondents who did perceive a gender difference in the smart category, most said that women were more intelligent and c