It's beginning to be that time of year. Fall is in full swing, the leaves are changing colors, and major retailers are beginning to dedicate sections of their stores to copious amounts of holiday decorations. In addition to all of that great joy, a new batch of Christmas music is being offered to the world. Joining in this year with his own special take on the season is Brandon Heath with Christmas Is Here.
As with nearly all Christmas albums, they tend to be collections of holiday classics with a special twist. Christmas Is Here is no exception but it also mixes in some originals. A number of Heath's re-interpretations feature a great bluegrass sound, especially the two hymns "Go Tell It On The Mountain" and "In the Bleak Midwinter." Each song is orchestrated beautifully and resemble something that Alison Krauss and Union Station might produce - which is a true compliment. (Just a side note for church worship leaders, both renditions would be great interpretations for Sunday morning church services.)
Thankfully, Heath is a man of many sounds so his Christmas music can't be contained within one genre. He takes a stab at jazz on "The Christmas Song" and two original songs, "The Day After Thanksgiving" and "Mama Wouldn't Lie to Me." His original tracks are reminiscent of Harry Connick Jr. and really give the album a more playful feeling. Christmas music fans should welcome his original tracks warmly to their family favorites. In the same stream of traditionalism, his renditions of "Silent Night," "O Come All Ye Faithful/Angels We Have Heard On High," and "O Little Town of Bethlehem" are not dressed up in overdone music but are spot on with the nostalgic melodies many listeners know so well. The sound is respectful and honoring of the originals but really showcase great production.
An excellent stand out track is one of Heath's originals, "Just A Girl." Its theme is drawn from the perspective of the innkeeper in Bethlehem on the night that Jesus was born. Its simple sound and sweet melody matches the style of Christmas songs but with a very contemporary twist. Many who are familiar with songs like "Mary Did You Know?" or "Joseph's Lullaby" will most definitely find this as a great addition to the personal side of the Christmas story.
Some cynics may be thinking, "Christmas music only makes sense for a month or two, so it's nothing special to hear another Christmas album;" well my grumpy friends, it's time for you to get some holiday cheer. This album is more than just another collection of retold songs. It's something heartfelt, original, and creative. It truly is a great album to put in the rotation of your favorite holiday playlists, as it is sure to become a holiday classic. Merry Christmas, Mr. Heath.- Review date: 10/13/13, written by Ryan Barbee of Jesusfreakhideout.com
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