Listen to the new album from Sara Groves!
Listen to the new album from Sara Groves!

JFH Indie Review

JFH Indie Music Spotlight Review

Shelly E. Johnson

Shelly E. Johnson
Christmas Is Beautiful

Street Date: October 20, 2017
Style: Christmas



Something about an artist you love singing Christmas songs can make you feel like you are sitting by a fireplace with friends and family. But what about when you hear an unfamiliar voice? Most of us probably aren't eager to jump on a Christmas album from an artist we are not unacquainted with, but Shelly E. Johnson is sure to turn some heads with Christmas Is Beautiful.

Even from one look at the tracklist, you can tell that Christmas Is Beautiful is a good balance of original songs and Christmas classics. Most of the album is based in an anthemic pop/rock with jingling bells that you might expect in a Christmas album from worship artists like Kari Jobe or Darlene Zschech, but there is a healthy amount of variation from this style as well. For example, "The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting)" has a fun jazzy vibe, "White Christmas" is completely a cappela, and there is a beautiful piano medley of "O Holy Night" and the hymn "Holy Holy Holy." Small details like adding lyrics to "Joy to the World" or increasing the tempo on "Let It Snow" also help distinguish Christmas Is Beautiful from most other holiday albums. Perhaps the most successful sonic experimentation is the Rend Collective-esque "Noel" whose folksy verses proclaim the birth of the Savior and the hope that brings to us all. While the musical aspect of the album is dynamic and interesting, the centerpiece of Johnson's sound is her voice. She has a pretty tone, and though she is not necessarily a powerhouse vocalist, she displays a nice range. Ironically, she shines brightest singing at a softer tone as displayed on the original song, "Gift of Love."

It's clear that a lot of time and money went into the creation of this album as evidenced by the creative liberties taken, attention to detail, and high level of production. In fact, the album's aim to be perfect might be its only hindrance--that it loses some of the heartwarming touches that could elevate this to a "classic" status. Even so, Christmas is Beautiful deserves consideration as much as the big name artists releasing Christmas music this year.

- Review date: 10/24/17, written by Christopher Smith of Jesusfreakhideout.com

 

JFH Indie Spotlight Review . Record Label: None
. Album length: 13 tracks: 49 minutes, 53 seconds
. Street Date: October 20, 2017
. Buy It: iTunes
. Download It: AmazonMP3

  1. Angels We Have Heard on High (Medley) (4:50)
  2. Joy to the World (Christ Alone) (3:40)
  3. Noel (Light of the World) (3:15 )
  4. What a Savior (4:53)
  5. Christmas Is Beautiful (3:08)
  6. Gift of Love (feat. Seth Condrey) (4:55)
  7. O Holy Night (5:28)
  8. Let It Snow (1:53)
  9. White Christmas (2:41)
  10. The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting) (4:00)
  11. O Holy Night (Piano Solo) (4:18)
  12. Silent Night (Heaven Draws Close) (4:07)
  13. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas (2:45)

 

 

 

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This Friday, December 6
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Hillsong Worship Awake (Vinyl) [Hillsong/Capitol]
Coby James Coby James - EP [Centricity]
Nashville Life Music Gloria (Single) [Integrity Music]
Northlander Forces of Light [Facedown Records]
Sovereign Grace Music The Glorious Christ (Live) [Integrity Music]
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Next Friday, December 13
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Nothing Left Disconnected [Facedown]


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