Written by: Laura Chambers (November 3, 2018)
Christmas doesn’t just happen in a clean, shiny, recording studio. Like all aspects of life, it’s messy, chaotic, disorganized, and real. So as much as we might want to create the perfect experience for our family and friends, we may wind up losing the meaning of the holiday in the process. Jon and Valerie Guerra, aka PrayTell, return with their second Christmas album, It’s Almost Christmas, Vol. II. Recorded in various locations across the city of Chicago, it allows listeners to imagine that they too have been invited to spend the evening celebrating with Jon and Valerie and their friends.
“Merry Christmas and a Happy Holiday” delivers holiday wishes in multiple languages, even while it notes how our differences can sometimes be a barrier to togetherness. In that way, having something to unite around, such as celebrating Christmas, goes a long way towards breaking those barriers down. PrayTell’s take on “Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree” is a quick, fun, duet that doesn’t pour on the choruses. In “Baby, It’s Christmas Time”, each takes the time to list some of the gifts and accoutrements that they don’t need before assuring each other that the love of the other is all they really need to make the season special.
A combination of “The Christmas Song/I’ll Be Seeing You” cozily caresses the ear of the listener like the warmth of a fire. Combined, the songs give a suggestion that being together in person may not be possible, but love is still felt across the miles. A jazzy “Jingle Bells” follows, not quite “dashing through the snow”, but rather rolling; next is a charming rendition of “I’ve Got My Love To Keep Me Warm”. “Snow Song” asks if any life remains beneath the covering of winter, both the season and the spiritual condition. There is hope that just as winter will fade into spring, so spiritual winter will give way to new hope. The music beautifully brings a quiet snowfall to mind.
“Be Yourself At Christmas” asks why people revert to being somebody they’re not around the holidays – hiding their hurts and being strong for others. Jon and Valerie assure their friends of their love and that it’s okay to take off their masks and be authentic rather than pretending to be strong or happy when they’re not. “It Came Upon A Midnight Clear” is even more poignant in times of distress and striving, inviting us to listen for a sound that we’ve been drowning out with our cries of anger and distress – the good news of Christ’s coming. “Silent Night” ends on a hushed note as we’re called to contemplate what we have just heard and worship in silent awe.
It’s Almost Christmas, Vol. II offers us an oasis amidst the crush of cultural conflict and personal strife. PrayTell gives us a chance to rest in a safe place among friends. Christmas is a time to celebrate romance, friendship, and the love of the best and truest friend of all; Jesus.
Released: November 2, 2018
Label: Thorndale Records
- Merry Christmas and a Happy Holiday 3:19
- Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree 2:14
- Baby, It’s Christmas Time 4:12
- The Christmas Song / I’ll Be Seeing You 3:52
- Jingle Bells 3:21
- I’ve Got My Love to Keep Me Warm 3:24
- Snow Song 2:51
- Be Yourself at Christmas 3:26
- It Came Upon a Midnight Clear 3:01
- Silent Night 4:58
10 Tracks, 34:00
Buy on iTunes
More from PrayTell:
- It’s Almost Christmas, Vol. II (2018)