On any given Sunday at Parkview Church in Iowa City, IA, you can find Daniel Van Oss leading the congregation in worship.
Aside from that, Van Oss is also seeking a career in writing and performing music. 2009 marks the release of his very own Christmas
album, The Heart of Heaven. It's a collection of heartfelt songs and carols that are peaceful and contemplative,
with several of the songs having completely different instruments. While the piano ends up being the main instrument, you'll also
hear bass and drums, as well as violins, flutes, a small amount of drum machine and even some tribal and Middle Eastern sounds (including
a sitar in his take on "Little Drummer Boy"). "O Come, O Come Emmanuel" is even slightly jazzy with its saxophone intro. This results
in somewhat of a problem, though. While it's certainly impressive that Van Oss finds ways to incorporate all these different sounds, it
almost makes The Heart of Heaven too much of a mixed bag. One song will be strictly vocals and piano, and next thing you know,
you've found yourself in the middle of Africa, only to be thrown back into tranquility in the next song. However, this doesn't happen
often, as the majority of the album is slower. Almost too slow, really, as at times it just seems to drag on, especially in the songs
that are usually more upbeat, like "Angels We Have Heard on High" and "Joy To The World" - the latter of which is supposed to be a
celebratory song. Other than these, The Heart of Heaven isn't really a bad Christmas album, but most of it is just all
something we've heard before in Christmas music (aside from all the Middle Eastern-influenced material). Van Oss is obviously a
talented musician, and I would love to hear his own writings, or even a different take on Christmas music, instead of slow song after
slow song. But with his musicianship, I anticipate a noteworthy project of his own, personally-penned songs sometime in the future.
- Review date: 12/22/09, written by Scott Fryberger of Jesusfreakhideout.com