Slim Forsythe & The Parklane Drifters
Every seasoned pop crooner or diva is under contract with the universe to release at least one Christmas album, if not myriad. (Tony Bennett's enthusiasm for the holidays is seemingly boundless.) Thanks to an old cassette of my dad's, I grew up associating Christmas with Johnny Mathis, which isn't as bad as it sounds. Holiday albums by local artists are rare, but this year, two locals have released Christmas recordings: honky-tonker Slim Forsythe and smooth pop vocalist Rosa Colucci (both arrived too late to make CP's Holiday Guide).
"Steeltown Christmas," by Slim Forsythe & The Parklane Drifters, is a single that namechecks local landmarks and makes numerous Steelers references, set to an old-timey clip-clop with fiddle and pedal steel. If I had a radio show on, say, WDVE or FROGGY, I'd have this celebration of yinzer yuletide on regular rotation, but it would also make a great stocking stuffer for the old-school Pittsburgher on your list. With all proceeds benefiting a local charity, it's a gift that works double-duty.
The Gift, a full-length by local singer and Pittsburgh Post-Gazette writer Rosa Colucci, offers both contemporary songs ("Sing, Mary Sing," "Mary, Did You Know?") and classics ("Silent Night," "I'll Be Home for Christmas"), as well as the odd Joni Mitchell cover. The emphasis is on Christian religious material, and the kind of pop arrangements you'd hear at a "contemporary" praise service. (As Colucci notes of one song penned by CCM staple Amy Grant, "I've sung Amy's music for years. I hope that she likes this version.")
That said, The Gift should be more than adequate for the main purpose of a Christmas album: A pleasant, slick sound-bed for holiday parties and whatnot, where a little cheese and nostalgia is kind of the point. I might be tempted to play it myself ... but I've already got that covered with the Johnny Mathis.