While it's always enjoyable to hear the new Christmas projects that are released every year as the Season of Advent approaches, at times it can seem like every new Christmas album is just more of the same: someone singing songs that have been sung a thousand times before. The concept of Todd Agnew's first Christmas release is unique and refreshing, choosing not to merely take old Christmas carols and add a few new elements to them. Each song on Do You See What I See? is sung from the perspective of a character in the Christmas story, from Mary to The Shepherds to a song sung to Jesus Himself.
The idea works well, and only because of Todd's choice to employ the voices of Joy Whitlock, Anthony Evans, Shelley Jennings and several others. The variety of voices gives the feel of a musical, and it's important to note that this is much more than a 'Todd Agnew Christmas album.' Todd only sings on five of the eleven songs, and one of those is sung in a supporting role. Really, this is more a collection of songs from many different artists that happens to feature Agnew. Keeping that in mind, Do You See What I See? is quite an achievement.
The album starts off with Todd by himself singing "Do You Hear What I Hear?" which is one of only two classic carols on the record. "No Room" is next and features the incredible voice of Joy Whitlock as the Innkeeper, as well as a great saxophone part and Todd helping with background vocals. Vince Lichlyter of Jonah33 gives a voice to Joseph in "This is All I Have To Give" before Mary is played by Christy Nockels, formerly of Watermark, in "Magnificat."
Todd returns in the next song, "Did You Know," a song sung to Jesus, asking Him what it was like coming into the world as a baby. Elizabeth and Simeon are the next two characters we hear from in the songs "Sleep Well" and "He Is Called Jesus," sung by Shelley Jennings and Mike Weaver of Big Daddy Weave, respectively. Jennings's song is one of the best of the album, a peaceful lullaby with beautiful sound and lyrics.
Agnew takes the voice of the Magi in "God With Us," and Anthony Evans is backed by a stellar choir singing as The Angels in "Glory to God." Michael O'Brien takes the voice of the Shepherds in "Bethlehem Dawn" before several of the singers come together on the final track, "In The First Light."
If you're looking for a Christmas collection that's different from all the rest, look no further than Do You See What I See. Agnew and friends have put together something special that should be enjoyed in many brightly lit homes this holiday season. If you can only buy one Christmas album this year, be sure to make it Do You See What I See.- Review date: 12/2/06, written by Spencer Priest
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