Coming on the heels of 2018's hit album, Burn the Ships, for KING & COUNTRY returns with the holiday offering, A Drummer Boy Christmas. Comprising of mostly familiar tunes, the Smallbone brothers present their own unique vision with a set list that has purpose. The old carols and hymns are given the duo's signature sound, a couple original tunes are added to the mix, along with a pair of monologues to help move the album along. In many ways, Drummer Boy feels like a Christmas pageant with three movements or acts to help celebrate Christ's birth.
Things kick off with "In The Bleak Midwinter (Prologue)," covering the first verse of the hymn and setting up how the world was a bleak place before Christ was born. The Smallbone's covers of "Joy to the World" and "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel" are given a dramatic for KING & COUNTRY treatment, the latter being bolstered by NEEDTOBREATHE stepping in to help. The theme of the first act is emphasized with its concluding track, "Won't You Come," the first of the monologues, which builds the anticipation for Jesus' birth. The second act keeps things shorter, highlighting the night of Jesus' arrival with the first original track, the beautiful and haunting "Heavenly Hosts," and "Silent Night." "A Christmas Monologue" serves as a transition to the final act, building a celebratory anticipation.
The final act--the longest of the three--focuses on the celebration, kicking off with the duo's rendition of "Little Drummer Boy," which features plenty of drums and energy. Things slow down for the second original track, "The Carol of Joseph (I Believe in You)," imagining Joseph's reaction to the events of Christmas. From there, the celebration kicks off in earnest with "O Come All Ye Faithful," "Go Tell It On The Mountain," and "Angels We Have Heard On High." The final verse of "In The Bleak Midwinter" makes for a fitting "Epilogue," bringing the point home by asking, "What can I give Him?/I'll give Him my heart."
It may seem odd to follow up a widely successful album with a holiday one, but for KING & COUNTRY pulls it off. Re-imagining these songs with their energetic pop style work well, though it starts to feel too familiar by the end. Ultimately, what sets this album above its peers is the direction and purpose behind the songs picked and the way they're ordered. This thoughtfulness is felt and allows for deeper layers of reflection where other Christmas records only provide background fluff. Fans of the duo will undoubtedly be pleased with this effort, but listeners outside that base will also find an enjoyable holiday record worth adding to their rotation.- Review date: 10/21/20, written by John Underdown of Jesusfreakhideout.com
Record Label: Curb / Word Entertainment
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