It's Christmas in October yet again. Every year, the bulk of the annual holiday releases for the Christmas season start releasing in early October (and sometimes mid-September). I haven't quite figured out the exact reason for this early of a release, but I have to imagine it has something to do with marketing. It gives time for the media types to review the material and fans to realize their favorite artist has a new Christmas album out before the season begins. Whatever the reason may be, reviewing Christmas music a full two months before the season starts is a bit trying. Thankfully, Peter Furler's addition, Christmas, provides a pleasant listening experience -- even outside of the normal holiday listening period. Furler teamed up with the jazzy and traditional Christmas music aficionado, David Ian, for his first holiday release. While many artists attempt to write new holiday classics or revamp the old, Furler and Ian do the opposite. These piano-dominating jazz renditions are quite plain, but do quite a bit to remind you just how great these old songs and hymns are.
Eight Christmas classics are done with traditional arrangements as Furler lets Ian do what he does best. "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen," a song that has always had a darker minor tone, is brightened up with a piano interlude inserted in around the half-way mark. One of the more enjoyable tunes follows with "It Came Upon a Midnight Clear." From some reason, this title doesn't get as much love in the Christmas covers as others, but the traditional Christmas feel makes this cut one of the best. "We Three Kings" doesn't hold up as well as others, but "O Come O Come Emmanuel" is nicely done for sure.
"Spoken Word Ancient Writings" is the first of two spoken word tracks. Furler reads different scriptures prophesying of the coming King, Jesus. Every year, millions hear the Christmas story read from Luke chapter 2, but how many times do we overlook that Jesus' birth was foretold so many years before. "O Come All Ye Faithful" is also a nice addition, but "What Child is This?" stands out a bit more. "Spoken Word Christmas Story" recounts the Christmas story, starting with the shepherds, found in Luke chapter 2. While "Ancient Writings" is a reminder to God's plan from the start, "Christmas Story" is a reminder that God always keeps his promises. "Little Drummer Boy" begins to wind the record down and is another stand-out. Furler and Ian do a great job on a somewhat awkward song that not many have done justice. Finally, the record closes with the ever popular "Silent Night." The track is the most stripped down and plain song on the album, but it works. It seems that Furler sings in awe of a loving Savior who was willing to come to earth for a very unworthy human race.
While Peter Furler and David Ian's Christmas is far from original, it is actually quite refreshing. People tend to love the Christmas season for so many reasons--the music is definitely one for many--but it's so often over-done and over-thought. Furler and Ian offer up some of most sung Christmas classics in a heartwarming and traditional manner. No matter what style of music you like, or if you like Christmas covers or originals better, it's likely that you'll find something to enjoy about this album. It's doubtful that Christmas will become your absolute favorite Christmas album, but it's very probable that it will be one you look forward to hearing every year. Each song is worthy of a listen and it will serve perfectly as the soft background music and soundtrack at your next Christmas party. Peter Furler continues to show how he's remained in this industry for so long. Simply put: The man knows what he's doing. Pick up Christmas and get in the holiday spirit a little early this year.- Review date: 9/30/14, written by Michael Weaver of Jesusfreakhideout.com
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