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Stephanie Urbina Jones

Feliz Navidad Y'all – 2015 (Casa Del Rio)

Reviewed by Dan MacIntosh

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CDs by Stephanie Urbina Jones

There isn't a true litmus test for the quality of newly recorded Christmas music. Even so, if an artist can include both "Feliz Navidad" and "The Little Drummer Boy" on her holiday album and somehow still make them sound fresh and lively, that's a clear 'pass.' Stephanie Urbina Jones accomplished this difficult feat with her Texas titled "Feliz Navidad, Y'all" album, and then some.

While Jones is a fairly staunchly traditional country singer, she nevertheless transforms "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" into a piano-plunking jazz exercise that is also a winner. Jones further scores points for going all Eartha Kitt with "Sexy, Saucy, Sometimes Naughty Time of Year," which may be the sexiest Christmas song this side of "Santa Baby." Yet she also sings as reverently as a church choir girl on "Hallelujah Chorus."

Many times, when an artist tries a little too hard to be all things to all people, such attempts reek of desperation. Jones avoids this trap by behaving perfectly naturally, whether she's a nymph elf or being positively hymnal.

Some of the sexiness with which she infused "Sexy, Saucy, Sometimes Naughty Time of Year" must have rubbed off on the very next track, "Winter Wonderland," which swings more than it ever has, while colored by rousing fiddle and Stax-y Hammond organ.

Play this album each Christmastime so you can once again loudly sing feliz navidad, y'all, without shame.