Every year, labels inundate the market with Christmas releases that find well-known artists performing the same old carols that Americans have heard time and time again. Few of those CDs offer any surprises, but A Putumayo World Christmas is an exception -- a major exception. Spanning 1986-2000, this intriguing collection takes a look at some of the Christmas songs that Americans aren't inundated with during the Holidays. A Putumayo World Christmas gives listeners a chance to hear what Christmas music sounds like in different parts of the world, and the artists come from countries that range from Brazil (Ivan Lins) and Columbia (los Embajadores Vallenatos) to Puerto Rico (Pepe Castillo) and Jamaica (Ini Kamoze). Many of the artists are from Latin America and the Caribbean; however, the CD takes us to Scandinavia with Norwegian singer Åsne Valland Nordli's version of the traditional "Kling No Klokka." And although violinist Steve Schuch is from New England, his performance of "Here We Come A-Wassailing" gives listeners a taste of the type of Celtic Christmas music that has existed in Ireland and Scotland for centuries. It should be stressed that one doesn't have to celebrate Christmas or embrace Christianity to appreciate this collection. Just as a broad-minded Protestant or Catholic can enjoy traditional Jewish, Islamic, Buddhist, or Hindu melodies and still be happily Christian, A Putumayo World Christmas is recommended to people of all faiths who appreciate interesting music.
AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson