Christmas Albums 2011

It has been too long since I posted anything on this blog, and I do have a few posts brewing, but I will break my silence with a quick roundup of Christmas albums. I last did some reviews of Christmas albums back in November 2009, and to be honest not much new has come out. Here’s a few of my favourites though:

SojournA Child is Born
The latest Christmas album from Sojourn music, whose albums I always enjoy. I’ve not had a chance to listen to this one too much yet as it only came out today, but you can try before you buy at their bandcamp page. My only disappointment is that they felt the need to make this the ten millionth Christmas album to include yet another cover of O Come O Come Emmanuel. But I am pleased to see a few of their own compositions included, alongside their own quirky style giving the traditional carols a fresh flavour. A Voice is Sounding is a nice adaption of a fourth century hymn, and I did enjoy their blues version of Go Tell it on the Mountain.
Rating: ★★★★☆
SojournAdvent Songs
I know I mentioned this one last time, but it is worth repeating, as this remains one of my favourite Christmas albums of all time, also from Sojourn. It does feature a couple of traditional carols, but I like the fact that most are their own compositions. My favourite track is Amen, Amen, and they have produced a stirring transformation of What Child is This. Click the album cover for an Amazon link, or you can listen to the whole thing online at bandcamp. Yes, it too includes O Come O Come Immanuel, although their arrangement is one of my favourites so I will let them off.
Rating: ★★★★½
Bifrost ArtsSalvation is Created
The album starts off with a moody orchestral version of, you guessed it, O Come O Come Emmanuel. Nevertheless this is no ordinary Christmas album, with some really nice arrangements in a gentle folk style reminiscent in places of Sufjan Stevens, whilst others are more orchestral. Worth checking out for something different from the standard Christmas album fare.
Rating: ★★★★½
Vince Guaraldi TrioA Charlie Brown Christmas
Not a Christian themed album, and not a new release, but this goes down in my book as a real classic, featuring the delightful jazz piano of Vince Guaraldi. My favourite tracks are O Tannenbaum and Greensleeves. My Drum is cute when you first hear it, but becomes a little annoying after a few listens.
Rating: ★★★★☆
David Crowder BandOh For Joy
After really enjoying their Illuminate album, I haven’t found the David Crowder Band’s later material to be too appealing. But I was interested to how what the unique David Crowder style would work with Carols. The results are mixed, and to be honest I was disappointed that there seem to be no new songs. A bluegrass version of Angels we have heard on high doesn’t quite do it for me. And guess what, it features O Come O Come Emmanuel and O Holy Night.
Rating: ★★☆☆☆
Phil WickhamSongs For Christmas
Phil Wickham is one of my favourite Christian artists, so a Christmas album from him is always welcome. This one is available for a bargain £3.99 on Amazon.co.uk, and mostly features covers of traditional carols, but played in his style. This works particularly well for The First Noel. And yes, like everyone else, he has covers of O Come, O Come Emmanuel and O Holy Night. I could have done without Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas but overall this is a nice Christmas offering from Phil Wickham.
Rating: ★★★½☆

One I would steer clear of is Best Christmas Carols Album in the World … Ever. With a title like that you can be sure that it isn’t. Do let me know in the comments any good Christmas albums I have missed.

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