Christmas playlist part two: Wintersong by Sarah McLachlan

Apparently 2006 was a banner year for Christmas albums. Well, two, anyway. Aimee Mann’s One More Drifter in the Snow, which I covered yesterday, and Sarah McLachlan’s Wintersong were both released in October 2006. Both albums are well worth the money, though McLachlan’s Wintersong strikes me as the more traditional of the two.

Like Mann’s Drifter, Wintersong is largely composed of covers, with only the title track being an original by McLachlan.

The album starts with McLachlan’s take on the John Lennon / Yoko Ono single, “Happy Xmas (War Is Over).” I might even prefer it to the original, depending on the day and my mood.

While Mann’s take on Christmas is a little melancholy and anti-commercial, McLachlan’s album embraces the holiday spirit full force. It’s interesting to compare the songs they both chose to cover, “I’ll Be Home for Christmas,” and “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” to juxtapose the arrangements and moods. In McLachlan’s hands, “Have Yourself” is fully traditional. Mann’s is celebratory but also a little world-weary and wise.

“Wintersong” is my favorite track on the album. It’s sultry and lovely, very much in the vein of some of my favorite McLachlan songs from earlier albums like Surfacing.

Really, there’s not a bad track on the album. It’ll fade into the background while you’re trimming the tree or otherwise celebrating, but it also rewards close listening. Nice gift if you have friends or family who enjoy Christmas music, too.

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