A Christmas album by America's unfathomably all-conquering Lady A? Why didn't they think of it before? In fact, they almost did – six of the 12 tracks have been recycled after first appearing on an EP in 2010, which spells out how much effort the country-pop trio have lavished on this project. That said, the group are masterly soft-pop harmonisers, and when the vocals are matched by a worthy arrangement, the result is highly palatable. The bright-and-breezy treatment of A Holly Jolly Christmas – Hilary Scott's lead vocal is complemented by lightly swinging strings and horns – is a pleasure; so is the sprightly, fiddle-filled Let It Snow! and the first two-thirds of The First Noel, before Scott's delicate interpretation is trampled by drippy violins. Conversely – and more typically – their unpacking of Mariah Carey's All I Want for Christmas Is You is a true why-oh-why moment: substituting gentled-down vagueness for Carey's divapocalyptic frenzy is sacrilege. The sole original is the title track, which condenses Lady A's inherent tepidness and sentimentality into three limp minutes.
Caroline Sullivan writes about rock and pop for the Guardian