North Carolina-based gospel quartet Down East Boys brings some Christmas spirit to their powerhouse multi-part harmonies with their newest EP, Comfort and Joy. The wall of sound these guys create should give even non-gospel fans a reason to listen, as well as anyone who appreciates folksy Christmas carols.
The EP opens with the Celtic-inspired title track, complete with violin, wooden flute and a tribal beat that work well with the tight harmonies. The lyrics are a straightforward account of the Christmas story, with the chorus reminding us that Jesus "still brings us comfort and joy."
Next comes their rendition of "Glorious Impossible," which, while not exactly boring, isn't as dynamic as the other tracks. On the other hand, the lyrics are given a lot of space to make the point that the events of the incarnation, like the virgin birth and the resurrection, are impossible--at least from a human perspective.
The group's version of "Little Drummer Boy" has the distinction of being one of the few with an actual drum solo! Throughout the song, the drums have a huge presence without overshadowing the four-part harmonies. The track has a lively country vibe that's joyful, unlike many versions played on repeat throughout the holidays.
And speaking of joyful, the group's take on "Children Go Where I Send Thee" is pure Southern gospel fun. Even if you're not a fan of the style, the vocal performances are undeniably great, especially from bass singer Zac Barham who particularly shines as a soloist on the Celtic-tinged "Wexford Carol."
Although Comfort and Joy is a solid EP, "Carol of the Bells Medley" is arguably the strongest track. The vocalists and backing band all bring their A-game for this dramatic and festive closer that probably wouldn't be out of place at Epcot's Candlelight Processional. Possibly the only gripe is that it's too short, but it's a suitable end to a quality bit of Christmas cheer from this talented group of guys.- Review date: 10/11/19, written by Andrea Hardee of Jesusfreakhideout.com
Record Label: Crossroads Records / Sonlite Records
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