Okay, just admit it. When the Christmas music starts to play on the radio and as you stroll through the stores at the mall, one can’t help but to be a little excited right? Well here at TCE, that could not be more true! With Christmas fast approaching, our team wanted to give you a breakdown of all of the Christmas music albums available in 2016. Here we have given you brief reviews of the available albums, highlighting our favorite tracks – all to get you in the Christmas spirit!
Our prayer is, that you and your family celebrate the true meaning of Christmas – the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Merry Christmas from our family to yours!
Beckah ShaeLet It Snow
Released: December 9, 2016
The talented Beckah Shae lends her incredible vocals to a collection of Christmas classics as well as two original songs on Let It Snow.
Unique musical arrangements give the familiar holiday favorites such as “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen”,
“Joy To The World”, “Let It Snow” & “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”, featuring Beckah’s young daughters Joy & Grace, a fresh, contemporary sound while the originals, “Smile” & “Hanukkah” compliment the other tracks nicely as they bring listeners attention to true meaning of Christmas.
One of the standout performances is Beckah’s beautiful rendition of “Mary Did You Know?” which showcases her voice as she sings one of the most powerful & touching modern Christmas songs.
From the opening notes, to the closing Christmas greeting from Beckah & her family, Let It Snow is a heartfelt album capturing the spirit of the season in a delightful way.
Buy on iTunes
Bethel Music KidsChristmas Party EP
Released: November 18, 2016
The children of Bethel Christian School are having a blast in this fun combination of songs. Their take on “Little Drummer Boy” cascades in waves that make it less of a quiet hushed moment and more of a dance-off, while “O Come All Ye Faithful” sheds its hushed reverence for the cheerful voices of children, whose love is beautiful in its immaturity. “O Come O Come Emmanuel” pulses throughout, like the heartbeat of one who yearns for the promise, always running through life unsated. “Oh Holy Night” is a nice enough version of the popular song, while “Joy To The World” rolls right along at a fast clip, with voices ascending and descending like bells. Nothing here you haven’t heard before, but pleasant background music for pre-Christmas trips in the car with your kids.
Gospel quartet Canton Junction has released their first Christmas project titled A Canton Christmas.
Their renditions of “Joy To The World”, “We Three Kings”, “Angels We Have Heard On High” and “Silent Night/Away In A Manger” each portray the joy of the true meaning of Christmas while bringing a smile to listeners faces.
“Glory To God In Highest” shares the story of Christ’s birth and the message of hope that came with His life on Earth with a soaring chorus making it a stand-out track on the album.
From start to finish, their harmonies shine on favorite Christmas carols as well as new originals. The group brings together traditional gospel & a little western swing for a down-home sound that is sure to brighten your holiday!
The ThrillofHope swirls around like the mysterious, exotic sands of Israel. Christy Nockels, as always, delivers a deep, glorious performance. From the stirring heart’s cry of “O Come O Come Emmanuel” to the joyous celebration of “Dance At Migdal Eder”; the surprising depths of “Wrap This One Up”, which I thought was going to be about wrapping paper, but actually pictures Christ as the sacrificial lamb. Bookended by “The King Is Coming”, which reminds us that He came and will return again. A lovely blend of new and old, hope and joy, sacrifice and splendor.
With the release of Christmas Stories, Jenny & Tyler bring their unique sound to a collection of classic Christmas favorites as well as original recordings.
“Christmastime” calls to mind the warmth and simple pleasures that come with the season as we fondly remember Christmases gone by and make new memories with loved ones that will last a lifetime.
The duo’s renditions of “I’ll Be Home For Christmas”, “Winter Wonderland”, “Oh Holy Night” & “White Christmas” each have a retro feel to them while also sounding fresh, making them stand out amongst more familiar versions.
Instrumentals of “In The Bleak Mid-Winter” & “Gloria Immanuel” add to the overall pleasantness of the album.
Each track is beautifully arranged with instruments and voices blending to create warm and inviting soundtrack to the Christmas season.
Unto Us could best be likened unto a grab bag; new and old, sacred and seasonal.JJHeller has the perfect voice for a crisp winter’s night. “Unto Us”, the title track, focuses on Jesus as God’s perfect gift to an otherwise hopeless world. Another highlight is “Oh, To See Christmas”, which cheerily describes the anticipation of little ones for Christmas and wishes that we could see it as they do again.
Her version of “Silent Night” seems to have an undercurrent of barely-restrained energy running through it, despite the softness of her vocals. “Christmas Is Here” reminds us of both the aesthetic and spiritual beauty of Christmas. Here, her voice sounds kind of like Lanae’ Hale J. All in all, it’s a pleasant enough album, with none of the bold leaps in arrangement that often cause people to become weary of a particular cover of a Christmas song before the season is through.
Jody McBrayer lends his voice to both traditional carols & modern Christmas songs on his first full-length, solo Christmas release, Christmas Time.
“Imagine This Christmas” opens the album with a timely message reminding listeners to slow down, set aside the differences that separate us and embrace the spirit of the season. The gifts of love, compassion, respect and joy are worth far more than any material gift that may be under a tree.
Also included is “Count Your Blessings Instead of Sheep” which will be familiar to those who have seen the film “White Christmas”. What makes this particular version unique and heartwarming is not only adding a chorus of “Silent Night”, but also the fact that Jody’s daughter is featured singing at the beginning of the track.
On “Ave Maria/O Holy Night”, Jody’s vocal range is showcased as he sings the classics.
“God Bless Us Everyone” closes the collection with a prayer of hope for the future.
Overall, Christmas Time is a heartfelt album with most songs focusing on the hopeful feeling the season brings and the gift of God’s love that we can share with everyone we meet.
You may or may not recognize his name, but you have most likely heard Justin C. Gilbert’s music before. Hailing from Atlanta, Justin has worked with the likes of Justin Timberlake, Jay-Z, and Alicia Keys, just to name a few. As both a keyboardist and singer, Justin C. Gilbert combines jazz, soul, hip hop, and pop to create beautiful music designed to touch the soul of his listeners. The Holiday Sessions does not stray at all from Justin’s core genre and provides a great example of the artist’s musical style while preparing listeners for the holiday season.
The Holiday Sessions offers an amazing contrast to mainstream Christmas albums which usually put the focus on vocals and giving listeners the opportunity to hear their favorite Christmas songs sung by their favorite artists. Being a musician and producer, Justin centers the focus on the music and the blend of holiday and contemporary jazz music. Singing becomes complimentary to the brass and drums, and half the tracks do not feature main vocals. Through the course of the album, Justin provides listeners with beautifully performed renditions of Christmas classics such as “Angels We Have Heard on High,” “Little Drummer Boy,” and “The Christmas Song.” The highlight of the album comes towards the end where Justin is joined by the Good Times Brass Band for a short, musical interlude of “What Child is This” that serves as an intro to a full-length rendition of “Greensleeves” featuring guest artist Thomas Clay. My only problem with this record is that we don’t get to hear a longer version of the “What Child is This” brass section, which was wonderful to listen to.
This is exactly the type of Christmas album that needs to be playing in the stereo while everyone is around the tree or during Christmas dinner. Its excellent production puts you in a great holiday mood and sounds like it should be in the soundtrack of any holiday special. When you are buying your new Christmas music this season, I encourage you not to overlook The Holiday Sessions. Justin C. Gilbert succeeds in offering fans a unique, yet classic album that I consider to be one of the best Christmas records I have heard in years.
With October bringing the first wave of 2016 Christmas records, one of the most highly anticipated would probably be Lauren Daigle’s Behold. The recent recipient of the GMA Dove Award for Female Vocalist of the Year and singer of such radio hits as “How Can It Be” and “Come Alive (Dry Bones)” is bringing in the Christmas season with a jazz-flavored array of Holiday classics featuring the sounds of her hometown of New Orleans. Behold is also Daigle’s first Christmas release and it doesn’t disappoint.
With a more mature and classic sound than most of today’s releases, the collection includes Lauren’s take on classics like “Jingle Bells”, “O Come All Ye Faithful” and “O Holy Night”. One of my personal favorites is the classic “Christmastime Is Here”. I can’t help to think of the Charlie Brown Christmas film, which is where I first heard this, among others.
While Behold contains many songs that have over-saturated many of the Christmas albums to release in the past decade, one big difference with Daigle’s effort and an aspect that sets it apart from many of the others is the arrangements. Daigle’s unique vocals also add an element to these tracks that in my opinion really rejuvenate these songs, making them her own. Behold is a Christmas record you will want to pick up.
Marc Martel, formerly of the Canadian band Downhere, brings us the gift of Christ’s incarnation, wrapped in his distinctive voice. You won’t find a single song on this EP that doesn’t point to the reason for the season. The introduction is a chaotic frenzy of holiday sounds, broken by soft footsteps on the snow. From here springs an arrangement of “Silent Night” with little adornment from instruments, as though they were meant to accent rather than dominate.
“Bleak Midwinter” pictures the beauty in the midst of unrelenting cold darkness that is the Christ child, accented by clear hard piano notes that fall like drops of ice. “O, Come, Emmanuel” expresses the longing soul’s need for the Messiah in the midst of death and captivity. “O Holy Night” is rich and sacred with all the joy of a heart released from angst. “What Child Is This” seems like a gypsy ballad with its strings and tambourines all a-quiver.
Finally, we have a new recording of “How Many Kings”, the song that celebrates the rare love God expressed for us and the unlikely way it happened. I still like the original version best; this one seems more like the stuff of easy radio pop than contemplative hymns. Still, the meaning of the lyrics can’t be lost on us. Martel’s heart breaks through the music, setting the stage for the Christmas season.
Worship artist Matt Redman celebrates the peaceful beauty of the Christmas season with the release of These Christmas Lights.
The title track, “These Christmas Lights”, captures the wonder of the true meaning of Christmas, praying that the hope found in this time of year will shine through our lives as we gather together with loved ones at Christmas and every day of our lives.
“Holy Night” reflects on the story of Christ’s birth as it tells of the night that God’s glory came to Earth and gave us the ultimate gift of His love in the form of our Savior.
It’s always interesting to hear a Christmas album full of original material. While listeners will hear a few familiar choruses, the songs featured on These Christmas Lights share the message of Christmas that is both unique and well done.
Unto Us: A Christmas Collection marks Matthew West’s second record of holiday songs, combining 5 songs that appeared on his 2011 record The Heart of Christmas along with 5 songs brand-new to this release. Unto Us offers the listener an upbeat record full of newer (and original) tunes including “A Christmas to Believe In” and my personal favorite, “Join The Angels” (which is upbeat and updated rendition of “Angels We Have Heard On High”).
Another track that sticks out among the tracks new to this collection is the traditional classic “Silent Night” featuring beautiful guest vocals by up-and-coming indie artist, Leanna Crawford.
Overall, Unto Us was a breath of fresh air offering the listener some more fun and original songs than the usual Holiday offering. Pick up Unto Us: A Christmas Collection now!
New Hope Oahu is a praise and worship group from New Hope Christian Fellowship in Honolulu, HI, which is one of the islands largest churches. The group has released over a half dozen records since being signed to Dream Records in 2013. Their most recent standard album release Future + Hope ranks personally as one of my favorite praise and worship records of recent memory.
December 9th marks the release of the group’s first Christmas record Hope Of All Hopes. The record offers a few songs that we are all familiar with such the Mark Lowry penned “Mary Did You Know?”, “Silent Night” and “What Child Is This?”. A few of the songs that I enjoyed most were “There’s A Song In The Air” and “Mele Kalikimaka” are probably my two favorites on the record. While the latter is one I cannot hear without thinking of the classic done by legendary crooner-era singer Bing Crosby.
If you enjoy groups like Hillsong United, Planetshakers and other praise and worship bands, then Hope Of All Hopes is a Christmas record you will want to pick up this Holiday season.
Buy on iTunes
NewsongBest Christmas Ever!
Released: October 21, 2016
When Newsong released the song “The Christmas Shoes” in 2001, I don’t think they ever would have thought just how popular the song would become. Not long after, the song was turned into a full-length novel written by Donna Van Liere and later into a made-for-TV movie. Now, 15 years later, the song highlights a new Christmas album from Newsong called The Best Christmas Ever. All but five of the tracks have been released on previous Christmas efforts put out by the group. The standout track in my opinion among the new ones would have to be the title track “The Best Christmas Ever”, which features Love & The Outcome’s Jodi King.
Highlighting the record of course is an updated live recording of Newsong’s hit song “The Christmas Shoes”. Be sure to check out Newsong on their Christmas tour now. Check out Newsongonline.com. for the latest dates.
Country music legends, The Oak Ridge Boys, released an all-new collection of holiday music titled Celebrate Christmas.
“Rest In You Tonight” tells the story of a family facing a difficult time which takes away the true feeling of Christmas. Through their hardship, they look to Jesus knowing that He is faithful to provide rest & comfort for those who seek Him.
“Come To The Manger” reminds listeners of the gift each of us were given when Christ came to Earth. Regardless of who we are or what we have done, we are still welcomed by a Savior with open arms when we bring our hopes & prayers to our merciful Lord.
Throughout the album, the group lends their signature vocals & classic sound to both traditional carols as well as original tunes that capture the joy and peace of the season as they share the message of Christmas.
Vocal group Selah re-released their popular Christmas album Rose Of Bethlehem. Along with the original 10 tracks featuring members Todd Smith, Nicol Sponberg and Allan Hall, the Deluxe Edition adds 5 new songs with current member, Amy Perry, who took Sponberg’s place after her departure.
“Once Upon A Christmas”, featuring music legend Dolly Parton, tells the joyous story of Jesus’ birth in a beautiful way.
“Dance In The Dawn” celebrates the glorious gift of freedom and hope that we received when Christ came to Earth.
Amy’s stand-out version of “Where Are You Christmas?” takes a look at how time can change how we view the holiday, but the true joy of the season can still be found when we slow down and allow ourselves to soak it in.
The album’s closing track, “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen/We Three Kings”, featuring Annie Moses Band, takes you on a musical journey as it combines the holiday classics with a stunning, fresh arrangement.
With its eclectic blend of rhythms & unique instrumentation along with near flawless vocal performances, powerful messages within the songs and new takes on familiar favorites, listeners will be delighted to include this album as they celebrate the Christmas season.
Majesty In A Manger is the one release this Christmas season that offers a song from not one, but many different artists. This collection offers songs by some of the greatest praise and worship artists out there including Darlene Zschech, “Gloria (Our Savior Found Us)”; Paul Baloche “King Of All The Earth” and a great instrumental by Lincoln Brewster with “O Little Town of Bethlehem”. Rounding out the album are some of the newer stars in the music business with Dustin Smith “Joy”; Seth & Nirva “Fill The Silent Night” and All Sons and Daughters “Come To Save Us”.
If it’s an album with timeless classics from your favorite Christian artists you are looking for, then Majesty In A Manger is the Christmas album you are looking for.
We Are Messengers Christmas EP God With Us reflects the Reason for the season with each song.
The unique arrangement on “From Heaven To Earth (Joy To The World)” expands upon the classic, familiar carol adding a chorus to celebrate the glorious gift of Jesus.
Title track “God With Us” tells of how the presence of God can be felt no matter where you find yourself over the holiday. The lyrics recognize that for many people, Christmas can be a difficult time to go through when you’ve suffered a loss or are unable to be near those you care about for whatever reason. Hope can still be found if you look to Him.
“Flesh & Bone” is a song of praise for the immeasurable love that God has for us to send Jesus to save us from sin & darkness. In a time of year where it’s easy to get caught up in the commercialization of Christmas, it is important to remember what we are gathering to celebrate; the birth of our Savior.
Though only four songs in length, the powerful message conveyed throughout God With Us makes it a worthy addition to your Christmas music library.