Music notes – Christmas album reviews
by Kevin Pollard
Phil Wickham: Christmas
As follow-up to his 2011 holiday debut, Phil Wickham has released Christmas, featuring ten songs with highlights like his fresh take on classics, “Hark the Herald Angels Sing”, “Joy to the World”, and “Away in a Manger”, combined with originals, such as “Face Of God,” which he co-wrote with Shane Everett and Shane Bernard (Shane & Shane), and the radio single, “This Year For Christmas,” a love song penned by Wickham for his wife. Phil’s stellar vocal delivery and modern arrangements found here make it one of the best new Christmas albums this year.
Marc Martel: The Christmas Collection
The Fuel Music
Canadian artist, Marc Martel, the former lead singer of Downhere, and in recent years known for his involvement in Queen tribute bands as well as lending his vocals for the movie, Bohemian Rhapsody, has just released his ambitious 21-song album titled, The Christmas Collection. The list of collaborators includes Jason Gray, Buddy Greene, Plumb, Scott Mulvahill, and Ron Block of Alison Krauss & Union Station along with a special trio of “Silver Bells” with Amy Grant and Michael W. Smith as he joins them on their annual Christmas tour this year, complete with symphony orchestra.
Lincoln Brewster: A Mostly Acoustic Christmas
For worship artist and guitar virtuoso Lincoln Brewster’s second Christmas album he went for a stripped-down production approach on, A Mostly Acoustic Christmas, and the results are fantastic. Holiday classics like “Jingle Bells,” “The Christmas Song,” “Come All Ye Faithful,” and even a re-imagined version of “Linus & Lucy” from A Charlie Brown Christmas all get jazz/blues renditions.
Chris Tomlin: Christmas Day: Christmas Songs of Worship EP
Chris Tomlin has previously offered up two full-length Christmas albums; 2009’s Glory in the Highest: Christmas Songs of Worship and 2015’s Adore: Christmas Songs Of Worship. Now, as he embarks on his annual Christmas tour, he has released a new 4-song EP Christmas Day: Christmas Songs of Worship. The project includes three originals along with the classic “Little Drummer Boy”. The highlights here include the radio single, “Christmas Day” featuring newcomers, “We The Kingdom” and “Hope of Israel,” a song he co-wrote with Ben Fielding, Jason Ingram and Reuben Morgan.
Sarah Groves: Joy of Every Longing Heart
Christian music folk-pop pioneer, singer, and songwriter, Sara Groves, has released her new Christmas project, Joy of Every Longing Heart on Fair Trade Services. The project is the follow-up to her 2008 release, O Holy Night. Found here, on this 9-song offering, are both new arrangements of traditional songs like “O Come O Come Emmanuel”, “Angels From The Realms of Glory” and “God Rest Ye Merry Gentleman” and self-penned originals like “We Wait” and “Just Like They Said”.
Riley Clemmons: The First Christmas EP
Pop singer/songwriter and newcomer, Riley Clemmons, releases her holiday EP, The First Christmas, that features four tracks, including the title track, an original composition from Clemmons. She recounts the very first Christmas and her own Christmas memories in this song of hope during the often too busy of time of year. Her vocal performances on classics, “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” and “Silent Night” shine while her cover of Wham!’s “Last Christmas” makes for a fun addition here.