CHRISTIAN MUSIC reviews
Best 2010 Christmas Albums: Critic Picks
By CBN.com Staff
Now that Thanksgiving has come and gone, it's officially the Christmas season. With the holiday only a month away, CBNmusic has compiled a list of new Christmas albums that you are sure to enjoy this season.
Bethlehem Skyline 2 is Christmas music done right. It's a fine collection of original Christ-centered holiday tunes coupled with classic favorites that are just different enough that they don't feel rehashed featuring the talent of Centricity Music's family of artists. The ensemble includes Me In Motion singing their version of Brenda Lee's "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree", Downhere's fantastic original "Christmas In Our Hearts", Jason Gray's original "Love Has a Name", a country music version of "Away In A Manger" by High Valley, "Carol of the Bells" beautifully sung by Lanae Hale, Matt Papa's uplifting "Hope Has Come" and rockin' "Little Drummer Boy", and more. Each track adds to this Christmas album. It's definitely a stocking-stuffer worthy record. - hannah goodwyn
Where has Dave Barnes been all my life? I asked myself this earlier in the year when I was introduced to his music for the first time. Although he’s been around for awhile, his music has been largely unknown until recently. Barnes is a fantastic musician, and his Christmas album for 2010 does not disappoint. I only wish he had used more imagination on his versions of old standards: They are solid, yet predictable. However, his originals and covers of recent Christmas hits from Mariah Carey and Harry Connick Jr are standouts. Especially notable is the duet with Lady Antebellum’s Hillary Scott, "Christmas Tonight". His vintage style, coupled with smooth vocals and excellent arrangements will be a favorite on your Christmas playlist for years to come. - rebekah wilson
With a mix of rock and soft pop, Essential recording artists such as Third Day, Jars of Clay, and Rebecca St. James share their holiday favorites on The Essential Christmas Collection. This album is nice background music while you trim your tree, but if you want stellar tracks, it only has a few. Matt Maher turns “Silent Night (Emmanuel)” into a worship lullaby and Brandon Heath stands out with his hope-filled “The Night Before Christmas”. Some of the songs are on other Christmas compilation albums or on the artists’ respective holiday albums. If you’re a fan, head to your favorite online MP3 store and pick the ones you want. - jennifer e. jones
Point of Grace’s southern female harmony provides a desirable Christmas CD with their latest release, Home for the Holidays. The pleasing mix of traditional Christmas hymns, contemporary Christian songs of Christ’s birth, and familiar light-hearted Christmas tunes will not disappoint. Of particular note are a few special treats: an angelic children’s choir join the chorus of their “Home for the Holidays/Silver Bells” medley, they jazz up “Candy Cane Lane” with a pace that rivals the Andrews Sisters’ “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy”, and a harmonica adds country character to their version of “A Holly Jolly Christmas”. Load up the five-disc CD player and include this in the mix playing at your family meal or gathering. It will add ‘grace’ to your festivities. - beth patch
Christmas cover albums have to walk a fine line. If the artists take it too seriously, (see: Dylan, Bob) the album becomes unintentionally funny. If the artists have too much fun with it, the album can be become an unfunny joke (see: Weezer). On the latest installment of Tooth and Nail Records’ annual Happy Christmas compilation, the label showcases their latest crop of indie, punk rock, and metalcore bands taking on Christmas classics, with each walking the line with varying degrees of success. Thankfully though, the collection has more hits than misses. First the highlights: Neon Horse channels a rockin’ Tom Waits on “Zat You Santa Clause”. Indie favorites Copeland nails a tender version of “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”. Bon Voyage’s “The Little Christmas Tree” is a dreamy retro rock effort. Emery offers up a layered indie jam in “Jesus Gave Us Christmas”. And Queens Club puts some dance-rock funk to the cartoon theme “You’re a Mean One Mr. Grinch”. The misses include Thousand Foot Krutch’s “Heat Miser”, which sounds like a bad energy drink commercial, and “The Chipmunk Song” from pop punkers Hawk Nelson, which feels dialed in. Overall, though, it’s another great addition to the T&N Christmas collection with more variety and personality than years past. - jesse carey
Familiar CCM voices sing classic Christmas carols and hymns on this holiday collection, O Come All Ye Faithful. Included on the album is Jeremy Camp's worshipful rendition of "O Come All Ye Faithful", Amy Grant singing "Silent Night", Chris Tomlin's "O Holy Night", and more. The highlights though are Bebo Norman's version of "Joy to the World" and Downhere's original "How Many Kings". Though not all of the songs will be holiday hits, O Come All Ye Faithful is offers quite a few pleasant tunes that will help you and your family ring in the season. - hannah goodwyn
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