James Taylor at Christmas

To say James Taylor breaks no new ground with this release is putting it mildly. Granted, the Christmas genre doesn’t exactly lend itself to innovation, but Sweet Baby James’s “new” disc isn’t even new; aside from a couple of changes and a shuffled playlist, it’s no different from the holiday album he put out in 2004. And yet, we can forgive him. Taylor’s seasonal pop-jazz standards are charming, and his back and forth with Natalie Cole on “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” is more playful than even ol’ Dean Martin’s. While the disc doesn’t rival the truly great Yuletide recordings (see, for instance, Neil Diamond’s The Christmas Album—seriously), the ever subdued Taylor vocals make it a delight—even if James may be guilty of a bit of regifting.