The Spirit of Christmas — Ray Charles

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Ray Charles albumAs we dust off the holly jolly boxes of décor and attire, it’s always up for debate on when to flip the soundtrack into seasonal mode. No matter the preference, the perfect album to unpack traditions is the classic Christmas staple, The Spirit of Christmas, by soul legend Ray Charles.

The Spirit of Christmas features a jingle-charm set of traditional holiday songs like “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” “The Little Drummer Boy” and “Winter Wonderland,” as well as gospel-inspired tracks such as “Hark, the Herald Angels Sing” and “The First Noel.” Ray’s renditions of these classics are nothing short of a transformative light show of cinnamon-infused wonder that creates a rich sonic tapestry of comfort and joy.

From the moment his iconic, fire-cracklin’ vocals hit the air in “What Child is This?” to the album’s eggnog-and-roaring-fire-inspired final note, we are transported into a Currier and Ives masterpiece. He effortlessly stirs magic for the soul with a peppermint stick of awesome through each track, infusing them with his genius and glittered nostalgic goodness, right down to “That Spirit of Christmas,” made forever famous by National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.

The soundtracks of the season are always a familiar waft of sugar-plum fun, and The Spirit of Christmas is the perfect sweater of warm tunes to deck the halls of sweet memories and light up the holidays.

May we all take pause like Claus this season with traditions old and new and enjoy a love greater than ourselves.

– Chris Rucker