The holiday season is now in full swing; Thanksgiving has come and gone and children have begun their countdown to Christmas day. Accompanying the shopping frenzy, that so dreadfully consumes the masses, nearly every retail store from Atlanta to Seattle is playing the whimsical music of Christmas. In recent years it is common practice for many a CCM artist/group to produce such a holiday offering. Some are life changing and great additions to holiday playlists, while others sound like they are done just because that's what a good Christian artist should do. This year, relative newcomers to the music scene, Kings Kaleidoscope, have decided to join in the festive offerings of the season with their Christmas EP, Joy Has Dawned. But on which side of the Christmas music spectrum do they reside? Is it life changing or forgetful? The final opinion will rest in the hands of the listener, but here are some thoughts from a fellow Christmas music connoisseur.
The album opens with Advent carol, "Come Thou Long Expected Jesus." With such a unique song for a contemporary Christmas album, it might seem out of place for some listeners but at it's core it is a biblically solid Christmas tune that truly points to Jesus. It's a great way to lay the foundation for what Christmas is really about; it's all about Jesus. Plus, the creative arrangement has an excellent wintry flair with bells and a beautiful brass section. "O Holy Night" follows with one of the most tasteful interpretations of the Christmas classic. The haunting piano and flowing background vocals give the track such musical depth that it will make Christmas music purists overwhelmed with happiness.
Introducing a more eclectic groove to the album is the title track, "Joy Has Dawned." King's respect of the melody, whilst giving the song their own twist, is executed impeccably. Percussionists are sure to get a kick out of the arrangement, as the drums are working at full capacity throughout the song. Returning to a more recognizable song, "O Come All Ye Faithful," is approached with a more organic and raw approach. A lovely less-polished choir interludes in and out of the song. Worship leaders take note: this rendition would be great to hear during the holiday gatherings because of its creative and accessible sound.
The album concludes with an interesting reinterpreting of a New Year's classic "Auld Lang Syne," with King's Kaleidoscope's "All Glory Be To Christ." This track may or may not be well received because of the changed lyrics, but honestly, it actually gives the song a more redeemed quality. Instead of just looking at our lives and reflecting on what has gone by throughout the year, it points to the glory of Jesus and His completed good work. Meaningful lyrics plus a well-known melody equals a powerful song.
So where on the Christmas music spectrum does Joy Has Dawned reside? It is possibly one of the better Christmas offerings I've heard in many a year. The faithful melodies, creative instrumentations, and songs that bring listeners' attention back to Jesus makes this album one that is sure to join the annual rotation of Christmas albums for years and years to come. Brothers and sisters, do yourself a holiday favor and get this album right away. Merry Christmas, y'all.
- Review date: 11/25/12, written by Ryan Barbee of Jesusfreakhideout.com