Both have new Christmas releases that celebrate the season their way.

preservation hall jazz band
Preservation Hall Jazz Band

The Preservation Hall Jazz Band is no stranger to Christmas music. In 2012, it backed Irma Thomas on "May Ev'ry Day be Christmas" on 2012's Holidays Rule, and this year it recorded four "Spotify Singles." The Spotify-only tracks show off the band in a number of different lights including a street parade band on "Jingle Bells." They deliver a swinging version of "Winter Wonderland" with PJ Morton that doesn't show the Pres Hall fingerprints until the instrumental breaks.

The songs illustrate in a nutshell what the Preservation Hall Jazz Band has become. It hasn't been the keeper of a repertoire or style; instead, it has taken "New Orleans music" as an approach that can be adapted to a number of contexts. The most improbable is the version of "Make It Jingle" with Big Freedia. Freedia contributed the song to the Office Christmas Party soundtrack in 2016, and the band provides a credible bounce setting for Freedia. They also have enough muscle to hold their own next to Freedia's high octane performance.

The version of "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch" is less surprising, but really, the band sounds so assured throughout these tracks that nothing is surprising. Boyfriend sings the song with a performance that matches the bigness and stylized nature of the cartoon that inspired it, while the band gives her a little burlesque bump and grind. That doesn't make the song sexy--Boyfriend's got a serious case of red ass for that Grinch--but it does, like the other three tracks, show the Hall band's range in just a handful of tracks.

This week, Kristin Diable released versions of "The Christmas Song" and "Joy to the World," and the tracks work the same way that Christmas songs did in pre-British Invasion days. Artists treated those releases as a vacation from their careers and released songs that they treated as gifts to their listeners--gifts that subtly connected the artist and his or her fans by saying, See? We both like Christmas. Ironically, these songs have endured in the way that their other songs haven't. Who knows an Andy Williams or Perry Como song that isn't about Christmas? 

Hearing them sing familiar songs made it easy to appreciate their talent, and that's the case with Diable's songs. The simple, spare versions make Diable's voice the focal point, and she makes them seem obviously, intrinsically southern. These songs underline the way her voice sound archetypical, as if it's not from any particular state but from "The South." She has been most convincing when she works with that characteristic, and canonical Christmas songs suit her perfectly.

For more Christmas music, check out our "12 Songs Christmas 2019" playlist, where it's a safe bet that the songs won't be played out. Last year, PJ Morton and Boyfriend appeared on our 12 Songs of Christmas podcast. You can hear me talk with Morton about his Christmas album, Christmas with PJ Morton, here. You can hear my conversation with Boyfriend about Mariah Carey's "All I Want for Christmas is You" here