Christmas is almost here, so we’re guessing you’ve dug out some of your favorite holiday music. And while it’s tempting to focus on the nostalgic and the songs that take you back in time, there are always amazing new Christmas albums coming out, year-in and year-out… but sometimes they are a bit more difficult to find. We are here to help – and we’ll rule out some of the corny, cliche productions and only focus on well-crafted gems.  Here is UTR Media’s curated list of the 6 Best Christmas Albums of 2019!

Click on any of the album covers below to be linked direct to that album on Spotify. ]

1. Christmas

by Sandra McCracken

When we heard that Sandra was releasing a Christmas album, we immediately had high expectations – simply because she is one of those consistently excellent artists. Yet, this project even exceeded our hopes.  With a folky jazz ensemble and robust string section, these songs exude the warmth, hope, and joy that will make this a record we will return to for years to come.  Sandra McCracken’s Christmas is the #1 best Christmas album of 2019!

2. The Beauty to Come

by Nathan Partain

On his site, Nathan shared: “My hope is that through these songs, the Christmas season can be reinterpreted, expanded and deepened in a fresh way for our hearts.” We would say, “Mission accomplished!”  Eight of the ten songs on this record are original compositions, with a tender, acoustic setting, and gorgeous lyrics, like “What the shepherds say/ in the filth and straw/ was the King of Kings/ in raw humility.”

3. Joy of Every Longing Heart

by Sara Groves

On this second career holiday album from Sara Groves, she tells the story of how Jesus’ birth affected those in the town of Bethlehem – by way of 5 Christmas hymn remakes, 3 originals, and 1 instrumental.  As you might expect with a Sara release, it is full of carefully crafted arrangements, excellent earthy production, and vocals warmer than fresh cocoa.  There is so much beautiful music packed into 32 minutes!  And the album artwork is amazing too.

4. Light Has Come: Christmas

by Future of Forestry

Many Christmas albums go a big band direction, or maybe boppy poppy with jingle bells, or possibly a symphonic direction.  But where does one turn to find a more modern indie soundscape for their holiday soundtrack?  The answer is the latest from Future of Forestry!  With 3 creative remakes of classic carols and 4 originals, this project sounds hip, fun, now… and is focused on the birth of Christ.

5. A Very McCrary Christmas

by The McCrary Sisters

The McCrary Sisters have backed up a who’s who list of musicians, including Bob Dylan, Carrie Underwood, Mike Farris, Margo Price, etc.  And on this new holiday release, they recruit some amazing guest cameos from Alison Krauss, Jerry Douglas, Buddy Miller, and more.  With the co-production of 3-time Grammy Award winner Scott Billington, this gospel-infused album is full of southern soul and might set your heart on the right path this season!

6. Advent

by Liturgical Folk

Ryan Flanigan and the collective at Liturgical Folk have been putting music to the thoughtful and rich poetry of Fr. Nelson Koscheski for years.  In March of 2019, Fr. Koscheski passed away, so this project will likely be the last to feature his poetry.  With this album created in a season of grief, you will find this release as good medicine if you experience a wider gamut of emotions this season.

Honorable Mentions – Christmas 2019

  • A Family Christmas – Jars of Clay & SHEL

  • Fragile – Nichole Nordeman

  • Incarnation Songs, Vol. 2 – Folk Hymnal

  • A Light Now Dawns – New Scottish Hymns Band

  • Christ is Born EP – Resound Worship

  • Getty Kids Hymnal: Family Carol Sing – Keith & Kristyn Getty

We should mention that remakes, re-releases, or live albums featuring previously released songs were not considered for this list.