Carrie Underwood leads the parade of new holiday music with “My Gift,” and this season’s crop of Christmas albums has more riding on it than those in past years, given the tumultuous and gloomy 2020 the world has endured.

It might be unrealistic to expect one holiday to erase the year’s bad mojo, but Underwood does her part for at least a few subsets of Christmas-music fans.

“My Gift” is reverential, poignant and heavily religious – calming music suitable for reflection and introspection.

"My Gift" by Carrie Underwood

Underwood sets the tone with the sober opener “Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee,” a near-a-cappella song supported by drone and faint acoustic music. The subsequent “O Come All Ye Faithful” is likewise stripped down in the beginning … until a flurry of strings escalates the energy.

“The Gift” has showier turns, too. The rousing “Let There Be Peace” is hymnal-esque, with choir and rousing piano as an earnest Underwood dreams of an end to tears and war and hunger, and on “O Holy Night” she commandeers the ebb and flow of intensity with majestic grace.

The release also closes out with satisfyingly straightforward renditions of a trio of classics – “Have Yourself a
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