Christmas album reviews by Kevin Pollard
For King and Country: Christmas (Live In Phoenix)
Recorded in December 2016 on the final night of the band’s 15-date arena Christmas tour, for KING & COUNTRY Christmas: Live in Phoenix is a collection of 5 carols and 5 original songs as well as a special version of their hit song “The Proof Of Your Love” featuring their sister and artist Rebecca St. James. Highlights here include “Little Drummer Boy”, the acoustic guitar driven mellow and reflective in “O Come O Come Emmanuel”, the folk/pop rendition of “Angels We Have Heard On High” and piano-led “Hark The Herald Angels Sing”.
Casting Crowns: It’s Finally Christmas EP, Beach Street, 2017
Eight years after their first Christmas project Casting Crowns releases It’s Finally Christmas EP with six new recordings. You’ll find new songs like “Make Room,” which features Matt Maher, and “Somewhere In Your Silent Night” while familiar tunes have been reworked to offer something fresh, as heard on the band’s rendition of “Gloria/Angels We Have Heard on High” and the worshipful “O Holy Night”.
Hillsong: The Peace Project, Hillsong, 2017
The Peace Project, the first Hillsong Christmas album in nearly five years. Timely titled The Peace Project, this collection presents a fresh collaboration of renown Hillsong worship leaders such as Young & Free frontman Aodhan King, UNITED’s Taya Smith and Worship’s Brooke Ligertwood, among others. The album features seven new, original songs including “Prince of Heaven,” “Seasons,” and “Peace Upon The Earth” along with new arrangements of five of the most beloved Christmas classics like “Hark,” “O Holy Night” and “Joy To The World.”
Tenth Avenue North: Decade the Halls Vol.1, Provident, 2017
Probably the most creative Christmas album I have heard in years comes from Tenth Avenue North’s Decade the Halls Vol.1 that offers covers of your favourite songs in styles representing different decades. What is so great here is that they do not take themselves too seriously and just have fun as the offer their 60s’esque version of “Deck The Halls”, a 1920’s rendition of “Good King Wenceslas”, 50’s styled “The First Christmas” with Zach Williams and Britt Nicole on the 70s flavored “We Three Kings”, 80’s pop influenced “Go Tell It On The Mountain,” the hilarious 90’s R&B throwback with Colton Dixon on “The First Noel” and grunge rock nod on “Mistletoe (The Christmas Sweater Song)”.
TobyMac: Light of Christmas, Gotee Records, 2017
TobyMac released a Christmas EP in 2003, as well as a full-length album, Christmas in Diverse City in 2011, in which he collaborated with other artists on half of the album. Now 6 years on he offers up Light of Christmas featuring Owl City on “The First Noel” and the title track. Other hightlights found here include “Mary’s Boy Child” with guest Jamie Grace, “Can’t Waite For Christmas” with Reliant K and “Christmas This Year” with Leigh Nash. Although many of these songs are previously released the two new songs and two remixed tracks make this his most well rounded Christmas offering.