for 2005 is better than ever. With new releases by Point of Grace, Martha Munizzi, Bryan Duncan and the NehoSoul Band and several other great artists, this holiday season is bringing some great music.
Shelley Breen, Heather Payne, Denise Jones, and Leigh Cappillino have truly outdone themselves on Winter Wonderland. Their signature sound and perfectly blended harmonies come shining through as they take us back to the Christmas times of our youth, with a flair that definitely has some modern touches.
Martha Munizzi truly brings it on When He Came
. One moment she's dressing up with a bit of salsa flair, then she goes all classic and traditional, only to move on to old school urban gospel. You may spend the entire 10 tracks wondering where she's going next, but you'll be enjoying yourself while you do.
Steven Curtis Chapman
mixes classics like "Silver Bells" skillfully with holiday favorites like "O Little Town Of Bethlehem." And he does them well. But the major selling points on this album are the non-standard songs like the tear-jerker "All I Really Want," the beautiful "The Miracle Of Christmas" and the duet with Vince Gill, "Christmas Is All In The Heart." Add in Shaoey, starting off the release with Luke 2:7-14 and reading it perfectly (you hear her and smile) and you've got a winner.
Bryan Duncan and the NehoSoul Band put together one seriously smooth CD with A NehoSoul Christmas
. They don't call Bryan the blue-eyed soul brother for nothing and this release showcases the stellar crew he's put together for an R&B holiday!
Ana Laura's "Sanctus," Joy Williams' "Here With Us," and Third Day's "Manger Throne" are highlights on this album. However, two duets, "King of Angels" performed by Krystal Meyers and Day of Fire's Josh Brown and "Mary's Prayer" done by Bebo Norman and Christine Byrd are the songs that stand out head and shoulders above the rest.
MercyMe has put a solid holiday offering on the table with The Christmas Sessions
. Classics like "Oh Holy Night," Drummer Boy" and "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen
" are given a modern flavor and, in typical MercyMe fashion, are done well. Your stand-outs on this release are "Silent Night" (with Amy Grant providing stunning harmonies) and "Joseph's Lullaby" (my favorite song on the album).
Avalon's "Don't Save It All For Christmas Day," BarlowGirl
's "O Holy Night," Newsong's "The Christmas Shoes," Mark Schultz's "The First Noel" and "Jump5's "Sleigh Ride" are the brightest stars in this constellation of 30 Christmas classics.
Little kids singing Christmas songs ... you can't help but smile. Watching the joy on my own 10 year old's face as she recognized favorites like "Little Drummer Boy," "Mary Did You Know" and "Silent Night" made this one a keeper!
Sandi Patty may not be the youngster she was when she first hit the CCM scene, but she's still got the voice! This lady still sings like an angel and you'll hear it on every single song on Yuletide Joy
. "Jingle Bells ala Sandra" shows that she's also got a humerous streak in her, so don't be surprised by the comments from the horse!