Music Reviews by Kevin Pollard
Matt Maher: The Advent of Christmas, Essential Records, 2018
The Advent of Christmas is Matt Maher’s first full-length Christmas album and features a mix of classic carols with new originals. It is the new songs found here that remind you what a great songwriter Maher is. These are perfect songs for church worship teams to introduce to their December Sunday morning sets.
David Phelps: It Must Be Christmas, Gaither Music Group, 2018
With the release of David Phelps’ fifth career solo Christmas album, It Must Be Christmas, he has crafted yet another timeless collection of holiday favourites to be enjoyed for years to come. Highlights found on this 14-song collection include playful originals like “Christmas Rush” and “Catching Santa”, reworks of Burt Bacharach’s “What The World Needs Now”, David Meece’s “We Are The Reason” and the high energy “Go Tell It On The Mountain”.
CeCe Winans: Something’s Happening! A Christmas Album,
R&B and Gospel legend CeCe Winans offers up her second holiday collection Something’s Happening, a reverent collection of original songs and timeless Christmas classics. It has been 20 years since her last Christmas album and she decided it was time. This album features production courtesy of Winans’ son Alvin Love III and was recorded at Vatroslav Lisinski Concert Hall in Zagreb, Croatia with the Zagreb Philharmonic Orchestra. The result is larger-than-life arrangements of classics like “I Heard the Bells On Christmas Day”, “O Come O Come Emmanuel”, and “Hark! The Harold Angels Sing”, along with the stand-out original songs “Giving Season”, “This World Will Never Be The Same” and the title track.
Lauren Daigle: Behold (Deluxe), Centricity Music, 2018
On the heels of Lauren Daigle’s release Look Up Child that has led to unprecedented mainstream exposure performing on The Ellen Show, The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon and Dancing With The Stars, she has released a deluxe version of her 2016 Christmas album Behold with three new tracks “Winter Wonderland”, “Away in a Manger” and “O Come O Come Emmanuel”. Lauren’s beautiful voice takes centre stage on this easy listening jazz influenced arrangements.
Pentatonix: Christmas Is Here, Sony Music, 2018
Acapella powerhouse group Pentatonix offer up their fourth Holiday collection with Christmas Is Here, featuring 12 new recordings. Their signature vocal gymnastics are showcased on original arrangements of classics like “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree”, “It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas” and “Here Comes Santa Claus”. Other highlights include David Foster’s “Grown-Up Christmas List” featuring guest vocalist Kelly Clarkson and “When You Believe” from the Prince of Egypt soundtrack featuring Maren Morris.
Canadian Artist Releases
Dan Bremnes: Wherever I Go, Curb/Word, 2018
Canadian singer/songwriter Dan Bremnes, originally from Salmon Arm, BC, has released his seven-song EP, Wherever I Go. This project is a collection of new songs from the Juno Award-winning artist and is a follow up to his sophomore album Where The Light Is, that featured the hit single “Beautiful”. The title track and first single released earlier this year, on the heals of performing on the 47-city Winter Jam Tour, has seen significant radio play both here and in the US. Bremnes’ acoustic pop sound has lyrical depth as heard on the ballads “It Would Have Been Enough” and “Speak To Me”. My favourite tracks are his infectious pop melodies heard on “How You Love Me”, “Up Again”, “The Way”, and the title track that will be welcomed by fans of Matthew West and Jordon Feliz.
Chelsea Amber: Face the Waves, Independent, 2018
Juno-nominated singer/songwriter Chelsea Amber has been offering up her pop/soul music since her debut album in 2007. Her music has earned countless accolades including Female Vocalist and Pop Album of the Year at the 2015 Covenant Awards and she has toured North America sharing the stage with the likes of Mercy Me, Avalon, and a duet with Rita MacNeil. She has now released a new full-length studio album titled Face the Waves. Chelsea’s music calls to mind the vocals of Natalie Grant, the engaging lyrics of Steven Curtis Chapman and the worshipful heart of Chris Tomlin. As evidenced by her song writing, she continues to walk in her God-given calling to music, encouraging people toward hope and purpose. www.chelseaamber.com