The New Sounds of Christmas: 2010
By Christa Banister, senior music editor, gmclife.com
Up in my home state of Wisconsin, the weather outside is already getting frightful. Rumor has it, the snow may even fly sooner rather than later. But in most of the country, it’s still quintessentially fall. The leaves are changing, and there’s a slight chill in the air (well, unless you’re in Texas, of course, where it’s perpetually summer). Really, the only true signs of Christmas are relegated to your local Target where the holiday section is already brimming with tinsel and twinkly lights.
Here at gmclife.com however, we’ve been thinking about the holidays for a while now, thanks to a steady stream of Christmas CDs from artists like Dave Barnes, Point of Grace, and Jason Crabb that have been arriving in our mailboxes. Here's a preview of what Christmas cheer is coming musically (and trust us, the variety of projects will make your season bright).
For those who believe variety is the spice of life…
The Album: The Essential Christmas Collection (Provident Label Group)
The Sound: With everyone from Third Day to Tenth Avenue North to Casting Crowns, Jars of Clay and Brandon Heath, there’s definitely something for everyone on The Essential Christmas Collection. And while the well-known artists all tackle classic carols like “Angels We Have Heard On High” and “Go Tell It On the Mountain” with aplomb, it’s Michael W. Smith’s classically infused favorite “All Is Well” that ultimately steals the show.
The Artist: Various
The Album: O Come All Ye Faithful (BEC Recordings)
The Sound: Like a spicy gingerbread latte or your favorite cup of hot chocolate, O Come All Ye Faithful is a Christmas collection that’s just plain comforting. Featuring everyone from the queen of holiday albums, Amy Grant (“Silent Night”) to singer/songwriter Bebo Norman (“Joy to the World” to the more worshipful strains of Jeremy Camp, Chris Tomlin and Jadon Lavik, O Come All Ye Faithful has a laidback vibe with all the sounds of the season.
The Artist: Various
The Album: Bethlehem Skyline Vol. 2 (Centricity)
The Sound: With a community spirit and some serious talent onboard, Bethlehem Skyline Vol. 2 highlights the beauty of collaboration as the Centricity music artists including Downhere, Andrew Peterson, Jason Gray, Me in Motion, Matt Papa, Lanae’ Hale and more team up for a unique celebration of Jesus’ birth. And just when you think you’ve heard every holiday song a million times, aspiring artists of all kinds will especially appreciate Lanae’ Hale’s “Starving Artist Christmas.”
For those who believe that delivering timeless carols with understated style never goes out of style…
The Album: Because It’s Christmas (Spring Hill)
The Sound: Jason Crabb has some serious pipes that were made for Christmas music, and Because It’s Christmas definitely delivers the goods. Including everything from “The Christmas Song” to “Strange Way to Save the World” to “Mary Did You Know,” plus a few new tracks like “Let’s Make a Baby King” and “Christmas in the Country,” the album has a distinctly homespun feel that ultimately allows Crabb’s vocals to steal the show – not that anyone will mind.
The Artist: Point of Grace
The Album: Home For the Holidays (Word)
The Sound: Although the women of Point of Grace have often called their trusty tour bus home during the holiday season, the idea that “home is wherever your family happens to be” is what gives the project its warmth. Featuring a wide variety of musical styles including pop, country and even jazz, Shelley Breen, Denise Jones and Leigh Cappillino breathe new life into “Little Drummer Boy” and “Holly Jolly Christmas” while introducing artists to soon-to-be favorites “Candy Cane Lane,” “Labor of Love” and “The Giver and the Gift.”
For those who are hip and like their holiday music to be, too…
The Album: Happy Christmas vol. 5 (BEC Recordings)
For those who like their Christmas music a little louder than the norm (and we’re not just talking volume, mind you), the Happy Christmas series has always been the antidote to holiday music as usual. Featuring a motley crew of artists (Family Force 5, Demon Hunter, Hawk Nelson, Copeland and Surrogate, for starters) performing traditional tracks like “O Holy Night” and “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch” and originals including “Snow Miser” and “Jesus Gave Us Christmas,” this definitely ain’t Nat King Cole, and we’re glad it isn’t.
The Artist: Dave Barnes
The Album: Very Merry Christmas (Razor & Tie)
The Sound: Singer/songwriter Dave Barnes packs plenty of aw-shucks southern charm into this classy, romantic album that features a slew of fun guest appearances including one from Lady Antebellum’s Hillary Scott on “Christmas Tonight,” just one of the many standout tracks on Very Merry Christmas.
The Artist: Newsboys
The Album: Christmas! A Newsboys Holiday (Inpop)
The Sound: Following the old showbiz adage of “always leaving the audience wanting more,” Newsboys serve up a short but sweet collection of familiar holiday songs (“Jingle Bell Rock” and Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas is You” for starters). While you still can’t help but assume that it’ll be Peter Furler stepping up to the microphone, Michael Tait does a great job filling in.
The Artist: Various
The Album: ‘Tis the Season to Be Gotee (Gotee Records)
The Sound: Featuring 11 tracks that haven’t shown up anywhere else, ‘Tis the Season to Be Gotee is a fun, span-the-genres collection of Christmas songs that have a whole lotta soul and rock ’n’ roll sensibility, whether Relient K is singing about “city sidewalks dressed in holiday style” or Ayiesha Woods is giving “Jingle Bells” a fresh modern spin.
The Artist: Future of Forestry
The Album: Advent Christmas EP Vol. 2 (Credential Recordings)
The Sound: Leaving off where they left off with Advent Christmas EP Vol. 1, Future of Forestry is serving up another epic celebration of the birth of Jesus. Featuring four traditional holiday classics, an original track and an instrumental interlude, Future of Forestry proves yet again why they are one of most innovative worship acts around. Bonus: When paired up with the previously released Vol. 1, it works together seamlessly for an even more dynamic listening experience.
About the Writer
After graduating with a B.S. in Journalism from North Central University in 1998, Christa Banister moved from Minneapolis to Nashville, Tenn. and eventually started working at CCM Magazine/Salem Publishing in various editorial capacities as an editor, columnist and website guru for five and a half years. After that, she launched her own Dallas-based freelance writing company and writes for numerous clients including Salem Publishing, Crosswalk.com (she review movies for them each week), Christian Single, Christianity Today, Threads Media, Songs4Worship.com, PassAlong.com and also helped kickstart the first Christian music blog for MTV. In addition, she also writes bios for professional recording artists and authors and penned her first two novels, Around the World in 80 Dates and Blessed Are the Meddlers for NavPress.
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