With the holiday season in full gear, it's time to heat up the hot cocoa and dust off your Grandma's Christmas vinyl collection! Truly there is something wonderful, if not magical, to be said about Christmas music. All of the classic tunes can unite even the most dysfunctional of families for a time of laughter and cheer as they sing together 'round the Christmas tree. Hoping to be incorporated into your family traditions is worship maestro Phil Wickham. Delivering his unique take on the classics and even a couple of originals, he's given a great gift with Songs for Christmas.
The album begins with the heartwarming instrumental, "Prelude." This track sets the scene for the whole album as the piano draws the listener into a very homey feeling album. You can't help but feel the warm fuzzies as it transitions seamlessly into "The First Noel." Honestly, this is probably one of the sweetest interpretations as the song receives an alternative-folk face lift. "Silent Night" continues with the acoustic folk sound with a pinch of mo-town. Traditionally, the carol would be sung to a slower tempo, however, if Wickham was looking to recreate tradition - he completed his goal with his up-tempo rendition.
"O Come, O Come Emmanuel" and "Oh Holy Night" follow the train of Christmas classics. While these tracks are not really changed too much, it actually is kind of refreshing as the integrity of the songs feels enhanced and respected rather than altered. Adding to the mix is Wickham's very own "Christmas Time." The track is melodic and easy to sing along with, but really doesn't stand out. However, if your local church is looking for a worshipful Christmas special, this is definitely going to bless your congregation.
Returning back to the songs we all know and love, we are given the soulful "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas." The beauty of the song is carried by Wickham's dynamic vocals as it really highlights his range. Next is his unique take on "The Little Drummer Boy." While not creating the very warm feelings of previous tracks, it's still a very good listen. Continuing in expressing his artistic mind is another original song, titled "Evermore." This is a true and pure Christmas worship song as Phil sings, "Evermore, evermore, He shall reign forevermore." Simply… it's a worship experience in the midst of holiday cheer.
Concluding the album is the fantastic "O Come All Ye Faithful." It really honors the traditional song and then adds a Wickham twist at the end. To say it is excellent is an understatement. If Heaven sounds like the choir that finishes this song, then we are all going to be in for a treat when we see our Maker face to face.
This is an incredible Christmas album! If there is one album to add to your Christmas collection, this is it. Songs for Christmas will be playing in my house for years and years to come and it should be in yours as well. So, heat up the hot cocoa, dust off the vinyl, and turn up the Phil Wickham. Merry Christmas, everyone!
- Review date: 11/28/10, written by Ryan Barbee of Jesusfreakhideout.com