The WOW series did things right when a Christmas installment was introduced three years ago. Thirty songs were gathered from thirty CCM artists to make up one memorable and expansive collection of pop/contemporary Christmas offerings. And while some may feel like a new WOW project is standard fare, WOW Christmas's first sequel WOW Christmas Green is a welcomed treat.
Like the first installment in 2002, WOW Christmas Green mixes up old recordings and brand new ones specially made just for this project to bring a diverse seasonal effort. Opening with the title track from Amy Grant's 1999 release A Christmas To Remember, Green gets off to a rather mild start. A brand new recording or perhaps a traditional one would have worked better to get the album going, but Natalie Grant's soulful "Joy To The World" from her album Believe and a brand new recording of "Hark The Herald Angels Sing" from Rebecca St. James pick up the pace. Steven Curtis Chapman's tender "O Little Town Of Bethlehem" is a wonderful moment, although followed quite strangely by TobyMac's "O Come All Ye Faithful" from his 2002 This Christmas single. ZOEgirl's memorable "What Child Is This?" precedes the modern holiday staple "The Christmas Shoes" from Newsong and Velasquez's emotional nod to the classic Christmas tunes of decades ago, "I'll Be Home For Christmas." Chris Tomlin offers up a brand new acoustic-driven recording in "Angels We Have Heard On High" while Jars Of Clay's "Little Drummer Boy" is pulled from their EP of the same name released ten years ago. Casting Crowns presents a rather favorable and worshipful rendition of "Away In A Manger," while Third Day's "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel," which originally appeared on the rare Essential Energy Christmas in 2000, is given a slight remix and update. Disc One draws to a diverse close with BarlowGirl's exceptional rock version of "O Holy Night" (which originally appeared on last year's Absolute Favorite Christmas) and soulful tracks from both Avalon and CeCe Winans.
Disc Two gets off on the right foot with a brand new recording of "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas," beautifully sung by Joy Williams. Bethany Dillon's "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen," also a new song, is a clever jazzy little rendition that precedes Michael W. Smith's piano ballad "Welcome To Our World" from his 1998 release Christmastime. Matthew West includes his own delightfully fun version of "Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow," before Clay Aiken makes a random appearance with his cover of Mark Lowry's "Mary, Did You Know?" from his own project. Point Of Grace's bouncy "Jingle Bell Rock" almost revisits the days of the Andrews Sisters, while Building 429 turns to a rock flavor for their "We Three Kings" and Kutless goes mostly acoustic for "It Came Upon a Midnight Clear." Relient K's pop/punk "Deck The Halls," from their Christmas EP, is a minute-plus interlude before Big Daddy Weave's unique take on "Go Tell It On The Mountain" presents itself. Disc Two winds down with ballads from Selah, and Mark Schultz, only broken up by David Crowder's spin on "Feliz Navidad," and finishing out with FFH's upbeat "Do You Hear What I Hear?" and Jump5's sugar pop "Sleigh Ride."
WOW Christmas Green is a festive collection of contemporary/pop Christmas tunes. It's not a perfect mix, suffering mostly from some songs sounding much more dated than others, or the styles being slightly too jumbled, but overall, it's a successful sequel and a fine project to add to your Christmas album rotation.- Review date: 10/3/05, written by John DiBiase
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