Over the past few years, Casting Crowns has quickly become the premiere CCM staple group, releasing three full-length records along with an accompanying live album to go with each tour that coincided after each release. While their accomplishments are certainly nothing to sneeze at, the group can be considered somewhat bland and unoriginal at times, especially in the realm of worship music. This they release their first full-length Christmas recording, titled Peace On Earth.
This release should come as a definite treat to Casting Crowns fans, especially since Christmas albums are sometimes hard to come by, particularly with bands we all know and love. This album includes both traditional Christmas tunes like "O Come All Ye Faithful," "Joy To The World," and even a slightly moving rendition of "Away In A Manger," along with original tracks from the group. Songs like the passionate "God Is With Us" and the extended feel of "Christmas Offering" show that the group can write for any occasion, including Christmas. Some of the highlights tend to be the traditional Christmas songs rather than the originals, mainly because the originals have a forced feel to them, almost like Casting Crowns wanted to do a whole album of traditional songs, but were told differently. This would have probably worked better, because the originality is lacking in these few original Christmas tunes, as has been evidenced before on their other albums.
Probably the worst song on Peace On Earth is the "Christmas version" of "While You Were Sleeping," previously from their sophomore recording, Lifesong. While it tends to be a decent addition to the Christmas season, it's obvious to hear that the group went into the studio, cut a new second verse, and just pasted it right over top of the original second verse. The song is completely identical to the Lifesong version, except with a slightly changed verse, talking about Mary keeping her Savior warm. Would it have been so hard to include a brand new song or an old favorite instead of re-releasing the same song? Apparently it was too hard, because this only gives 9 new tracks to fans.
Overall, this Christmas release from Christian music's biggest selling group will likely go gold, as the rest of their recordings have, without a blink. Is it worth the money? Some tracks are, but before venturing out to snatch this one up, check out the other Christmas releases from some Christian music staples, such as Sixpence None The Richer, Shane & Shane, and even Project 86.- Review date: 10/4/08, written by Justin Mabee for Jesusfreakhideout.com
Record Label: Beach Street Records
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