Tidings, Allison Crowe (Rubenesque)
This Canadian singer is more of a rock belter than her countrywoman Sarah McLachlan, and this 2005 album has more of a spontaneous feel to it, with only her piano, bass and percussion for backing. There are no originals, and indeed she even picks some non-holiday tunes for their complimentary tone, so we get things like Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah," the Stones' "Shine a Light," McLachlan's "Angel" and the Beatles' "Let it Be" and "In My Life." Regulars include Joni Mitchell's "River," "Silent Night," "In the Bleak Midwinter," "First Noel" and "O Holy Night." There's something to be said for this unadorned approach -- for example, you might just feel comfortable playing this all year round. Maple Music kindly threw in a DVD of her playing live, but you have to be in the fan club to get this.