In 1995, a young man from Kentucky named Steven Curtis Chapman released his first ever Christmas project entitled The Music Of Christmas. Steven had become well-known for his southern-flavored pop, but as his popularity increased and his songwriting matured, Steven had begun to stray from his southern roots. While his accent was undeniable, his vocal style became more contemporary and therefore more accessible to a wider listening audience. By 1996's Signs Of Life, the pop was given a slight rock edge which only increased on his spectacular 1999 release Speechless. So by 2003, Steven has become an adult pop/rock icon in Christian music. A new Christmas project releases this Fall exclusively through Hallmark records to exclusively Hallmark stores. Christmas Is All In the Heart, named after a hit song from his 1995 record, features six cuts from his first Christmas project remixed especially for this release, accompanied by six brand new Christmas recordings.
The remixed originals don't particularly sound all that different from their original versions and they just all-around feel as old as they are. The six new tracks are fresh and fantastic, but the other six tracks seem dated and out of place on the album. Chapman's vocal style differs too greatly from '95 to 2003. Eight years has shown Chapman grow beautifully as an artist and it's almost a shame to try to mix the two together on one new project. While the music is being repackaged for a whole new audience, I don't feel it blends well enough together or does the new music enough justice.
Nitpicking aside, as one who has appreciated Chapman's music for nearly a decade now, I'm delighted to hear brand new Christmas classics from Chapman. The new favorites include "Silver Bells," "Winter Wonderland," "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day," "Go Tell It on the Mountain," "It Came Upon a Midnight Clear," and "O Little Town of Bethlehem," all arranged beautifully in Chapman's current style. Christmas Is All In the Heart is still better than its predecessor and still has enough great music on it to be worth the reasonable $7.95 price tag. In fact, it probably could have passed nicely as a six song EP (or seven including the title track remixed). Perhaps Chapman can use the six new cuts as a foundation for an all-new full-length Christmas release soon. How about it, Steven?- Review date: 10/25/03, written by John DiBiase
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