Mark Kozalek Sings Christmas Carols is a real piece of work. The former Red House Painters and Sun Kil Moon singer performs a bunch of hymns and a handful of pop tunes, but the hymns carry it away. While Kozalek is not a Christian, he seems to have chosen the oldest possible carol texts to sing. There are a few light-hearted moments on the record, but Kozalek avoids being cute or clever on the hymns. There are no new twists on old favorites here. Just a man and his guitar thoughtfully, respectfully rendering old tunes.
The lyrics he chose for “O Christmas Tree” are gorgeous, a theological meditation on evergreen trees.