Honor. When I think of modern renditions of classic Christmas songs, that tends to be the thing missing from them. If an artist can interpret a classic in an up-to-date fashion, yet still honor the original, it calls for celebration. Our friends in the David Crowder*Band have not only done well with their holiday offering, they've proven that an old dog can do new tricks and it's still the same lovable dog we've known and grown to love. If the title Oh For Joy hasn't given it away yet, this EP calls for celebration with all of the holiday cheer you can muster.
Beginning the festivities is "Joy To the World." If anyone can turn a classic Christmas song into a worship song, it is definitely DC*B. The orchestration of the music is impeccable and very intentional; it's climaxed with the worshipful bridge as Crowder sings, "Oh for joy, lift up your voice. The Christ has come! The Christ has come!" The transition is excellent into the soft yet driven "The First Noel." Giving the song a mellow feel is the acoustic guitar along with Hogan's beautiful violin. I'm thankful to report that the song has not been altered into something that it is not, unlike many artists who choose to record updated renditions of classic Christmas music. Instead, it keeps its original melody and the heart of the song is simply magnified.
"Go, Tell It On The Mountain" receives a great dusting off, as it's already a slightly out-of-place holiday classic. If you're not a fan of the original, Crowder's rendition may win you over with the simple music and the insertion of "It's Christmas Day." In true Crowder-esque fashion, we are given a bluegrass take on "Angels We Have Heard On High." It comes complete with banjo, fiddle, and a wonderful crowd hollering together. "O Come, O Come Emanuel" has a similar sound to what you might hear on A Collision with the soft guitar and the constant building until it finally culminates with the resounding, "Rejoice! Emanuel has come!" Pure beauty.
At this point, the EP transitions to a live segment. Normally, this would turn me off, but the recording quality is so good and the integration of the crowd gives it an extra holiday punch. "O Holy Night" stays extremely traditional except for tacking on the chorus of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah," making the song that much sweeter. "Silent Night" continues in the same traditional manner, but only with the crowd singing and ending with an excellent bluegrass finale. Finishing the Christmas venture of DC*B is "Carol of the Bells." The song is basically a cover of the classic, instrumentally immortalized by the Tran Siberian Orchestra: a first-rate way to conclude a celebration of Christmas music.
If this EP is proving one thing, it is that you don't have to change something to make it fresh. The talented craftsmen of David Crowder*Band really do pay homage to the songs that have existed for years and years by staying true to the melodies and the heart behind the music. This is definitely going to become a classic album for families young and old. So get the wassail brewing, pull the cookies out of the oven, and put on Oh For Joy. It's time to celebrate. Merry Christmas, y'all!- Review date: 10/3/11, written by Ryan Barbee of Jesusfreakhideout.com
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