Mindy Smith, My Holiday (Vanguard)

The strongest release of new music is Mindy Smith’s <em>My Holiday</em>, which has become one of my favorite albums of the year. The Americana singer-songwriter mixes classics and new seasonal songs, performing the rare feat of writing new songs that could one day enter the Christmas canon without losing her art in the process. One song, for instance, picks up the theme of loneliness best articulated in “I’ll Be Home for Christmas,” and with a half-whispered voice she reassures the listener that he/she “shines like a beacon.” But she doesn’t promise that loved ones will reach out to the listener; the song is “Santa Will Find You,” and its melody is as lovely as the lyrics are smart.