Christmas time is here, and from one of Christian pop's most successful duos to date, you should've known it would only be a matter of time before you would see a Christmas album from pop sensations Aly & AJ. It's only been just over a year since we saw their strong selling debut album Into the Rush climb the charts. Their debut even saw a re-release this year as Into the Rush: Deluxe Edition. So how does Acoustic Hearts of Winter match up to the likes of their first studio release?
The opening track, "Greatest Time of Year" is definitely a song to raise your holiday spirits with its upbeat tempo and catchy tune, while its lyrics describe all of the joys of the holiday season. Unfortunately, the song fails to recognize, in an obvious way, the true reason why Christmas is such a great time of the year. Other Christmas classics featured on this album include "Joy to the World," "The First Noel," and "Deck the Halls." While these tunes do a wonderful job of showcasing Aly & AJ's powerhouse vocals, they tend to be slightly boring, mainly due to the fact that the only instrument used here is the guitar. While this is perhaps done on purpose for a deliberate acoustic format, something more exciting could've been done to make the album more interesting and fun to listen to.
Don't worry though. This album has its good share of standout tracks that are sure to satisfy any fan of modern Christmas music. Aly & AJ's rendition of "Little Drummer Boy" is excellent and is likely to get stuck in your head for quite a while after listening to it. One other song that impresses is "Not This Year," another fast tempo song similar to "Greatest Time of Year," but with completely different lyrical content. Written by Aly & AJ themselves, "Not This Year" is a tribute to a relative who passed away during the holiday season some years ago, and displays how well these young girls can put together a song on their own, fill it with emotion, and leave you in awe.
Aly & AJ are still new to the music industry, with 2006 being a standout year for them. Acoustic Hearts of Winter is an instant classic, and no doubt it will do well, not only with the Disney crowd, but in the Christian category too. As we await a new album from this team in the spring, let's hope that we'll see an even better and more enthusiastic approach to instilling God into Aly & AJ's lyrical content. As the girls put it in the album's thank-you's, "May your heart celebrate the sound of Acoustic Hearts of Winter. Many blessings in this year and in years to come."- Review date: 12/12/06, written by Logan Leasure
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