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JFH Staff Review



Sara Groves
O Holy Night



Artist Info: Discography
Album length: 12 tracks: 41 minutes, 9 seconds
Street Date: October 14, 2008


Ever since Sara Groves released "Child Of Love" back in 2002 on the City On A Hill: It's Christmas Time compilation, many been wondering when she would release a full Christmas record. Now, six years later, it is finally here. Was it worth the wait? Yes and no…

Groves's original tunes are clearly the best songs of the album, including the calm "It's True," the reflective "To Be With You," the contemplative "Cradle In Bethlehem," and the…well…peaceful "Peace, Peace." As is expected from every Sara Groves album, there is in fact a "curveball" song thrown in here as well. This comes in the form of the light "Toy Packaging." This quirky, utterly fun number talks about the annoyance of, quite literally, gift wrapping paper. Clocking in at barely over two minutes, the song changes tempo at least three times. It is easily the biggest highlight of the album.

However, the cover songs are less impressive. Sara attempts to make "It Came Upon A Midnight Clear," "O Holy Night," and "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas" all her own by creating completely new compositions for them. It works decently, but it's definitely something that has to grow on you. "Have Yourself…" even puts in additional lyrics, which actually do compliment the style. "Angels We Have Heard On High" is better, and it's only towards the middle that the arrangement gets somewhat lost and almost cluttered. And it isn't until the end of the album, with "Silent Night," that Sara keeps the traditional melody. However, its overly long, and completely unnecessary, ambient outro makes the song go from barely three minutes to almost six minutes in length.

Sara's acoustic-based piano-pop sound works perfectly with Christmas music, giving a calm, relaxing feel to this album. However, Sara tries a bit too hard to be unique with her covers of traditional songs, and some fall flat. It's the original tunes that make up for it, though, with the piano-pop flare that only Sara Groves can give. Although this is a solid release in this year's heaping batch of Christmas albums, it's definitely not the best. O Holy Night is definitely for those looking for a holiday record that's fresh and inventive, and is also a must-have for every Groves fan. For the casual listener looking for good Christmas music, however, I would suggest downloading only the original compositions from a digital outlet.

- Review date: 10/13/08, written by Matthew Watson of Jesusfreakhideout.com


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. Record Label: INO Records
. Album length: 12 tracks: 41 minutes, 9 seconds
. Street Date: October 14, 2008
. Buy It: Amazon.com

  1. Star Of Wonder
  2. It's True (w/ Toby Groves)
  3. It Came Upon A Midnight Clear
  4. O Holy Night
  5. To Be With You
  6. Angels We Have Heard On High
  7. Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas
  8. Toy Packaging
  9. Peace, Peace
  10. Cradle In Bethlehem
  11. Silent Night
  12. Go Tell It On The Mountain
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