Amy Grant -Tennessee Christmas


Amy Grant
Tennessee Christmas
AG Productions

It’s nice to revisit old memories during the holidays and Amy Grant’s “Tennessee Christmas” album is like a warm memory of holidays past. The album focuses on the “melancholy” nature of the season. The songs are tender, heartfelt, and at times, a bundle of joy. While the album is primarily made up of older material there are a few new additions to the CD. Including an updated version of “Baby It’s Cold Outside” featuring husband Vince Gill and “Christmas Don’t Be Late” with a bit of narrative from Amy.  The new album is a meaningful reflection on family and tradition and there is no better time than Christmas to really reflect on how important those things are in life.

– Ken W.

Bethel Kids – Christmas Party, EP


Bethel Kids
Christmas Party, EP
Bethel Music

The new Bethel Kids Christmas offering is an upbeat synth pop rendition of holiday favorites like “Little Drummer Boy,” “O Coy All Ye Faithful” and “O Holy Night.” It’s a short EP, with just 6 tracks and two of them are just different versions of “Little Drummer Boy.” It’s quite clever how they worked in a more modern day drumline into this song. My favorites are by far the techno-pop “O Come O Come Emmanuel,” mostly because of the choir sounding vocals, and the ever beautiful “O Holy Night.” Overall it is a fun CD, but the style of music is far from traditional and can become a bit overwhelming after a while. It’s great for a moment or two of fan or a quick dance party Christmas style.

– Ken W.

Jason Soroski – Born is the King


Jason Soroski
Born is the King
Hourglass Ministries

I an truly feeling this festive album, the punchy “We Three Kings,” “I saw Three Ships Come Sailing In,” and the funky “It’s Christmas Time.” They all make for a wonderful holiday album.  “Born is the King” is also a family album, with an instrumental, “It Came Upon the Midnight Clear”  featuring Jana Soroski and “In the Bleak Midwinter,” featuring Rachael Soroski on vocals.  These two, as well as the others led by Jason, combine to make for a decent holiday offering.  There is also an acoustic guitar instrumental called “Snowflakes and Streetlamps” that I find very appealing.  Overall, “Born is the King” is a well-rounded Christmas album with a very traditional style. I particularly like how the family was involved in the recording.

– Ken W.

Majesty in a Manger


Majesty in a Manger
Integrity Music

“Majesty in a Manger” is a worship based Christmas album. It features many different artists on their label (listed below). The eclectic set of artist and original songs makes this a unique offering this season. “Gloria,” featuring Darle Zschech is one of the standout tracks with her powerful vocals and such a heartfelt Christ-centered message. And I particularly like the ending guitar based instrumental featuring Lincoln Brewster. The genuine feeling of worship does permeate through this album and it is a wonderful new assortment of originals to add to your holiday collection this year.

– Ken W.

The complete tracklist for Majesty In A Manger, including the featured artists, is:

1. “Joy” – featuring Dustin Smith

2. “Majesty In A Manger” – featuring Greg Sykes

3. “Son Of God, Son Of Man” – featuring Travis Ryan

4. “Gloria (Our Savior Found Us)” – featuring Darlene Zschech

5. “Will Ever Be” – featuring Christine D’Clario

6. “Fill The Silent Night” – featuring Seth & Nirva

7. “Let My Soul Sing (Gloria)” – featuring Michael Farren

8. “Forever Amen (Glory To God)” – featuring Michael Neale

9. “Come To Save Us” – featuring All Sons & Daughters

10. “King Of All The Earth” – featuring Paul Baloche

11. “O Little Town Of Bethlehem (Instrumental)” – featuring Lincoln Brewster

JJ Heller – Unto Us


JJ Heller
Unto Us
Stone Table Records

“Unto Us” features the light and airy vocals of JJ Heller. It is a very traditional Christmas album with many of the holiday favorites like “Winter Wonderland,” “I’ll Be Home For Christmas,” and “Silent Night.” All which fit very well with her vocal grace. There are a few new songs as well and one that I can resonate with is “Oh, To See Christmas.” What a joy it is “to see Christmas through the eyes of the child” as she sings. The real highlights come when JJ gracefully lays out “O Come O Come Emmanuel” and “Silent Night.”

– Ken W.

Matt Redman – These Christmas Lights


Matt Redman
These Christmas Lights

“These Christmas Lights” is heavily original with a few traditional holiday songs mixed in as well. The album focuses heavily on Redman’s usual style of worship and the songs draw you with their heartfelt message of the savior. It is interesting to read what lengths Redman went in writing for this album;

“I don’t want to just tell a story; I want to make sure that we put ourselves in the story too. To help with the songwriting on this record, I went on a retreat to Israel. We reenacted, walking through the old roads that Jesus would have walked, going to some of the key places where key events of the gospel happened when Jesus walked this Earth. Thinking a lot about Him coming as a little newborn baby,” shares Redman. “We worked very hard on this record. I’m so grateful and aware of the collaboration, the team effort. Lots of people just digging deep, bringing their creativity, time and gifting their experience on this record. There’s definitely a sense of family, collaboration and friendship.”

One of my favorites is “Help from Heaven” which features Natasha Bedingfield. It’s a beautiful song lyrically and when you add her angelic voice it’s a lovely combination. Overall the album has a very lofty soundtrack and the depth of the original content make it a great new addition to this year’s Christmas offerings.

– Ken W.

Matthew West – Unto Us: A Christmas Collection


Matthew West
Unto Us: A Christmas Collection

On his second holiday album, West focuses on the vocals. The soundtrack is so very subtle that you can fixate on the words and the vocal sounds and not be distracted by too much instrumentation. Of course, a little variety is nice too and on “Jingle Bells” he whips it up with a horn section that’s unbeatable. However, West brings it right back down with the tender song “The Heart of Chrsitmas.” Most impressive is his rendition of “O Holy Night,” which is not an easy song to tackle. West does an amazing job on this and all of the others on “Unto Us: A Christmas Collection.”

– Ken W.

We Are Messengers – God With Us


We Are Messengers
God With Us
Word Records

The four-song EP, “God With Us,” features the “We Are Messengers” signature lofty sounds and Darren Mulligan’s Irish accent. The album is very understated in its presentation and for such a short project, there is so much content to it. As the title suggests, the intent is not to entertain, but to remind the listener that God is with us all the time and that Christmas is just one of the many times we see Christ amongst us;

“At Christmas, we see the love of God take on flesh and bone so that He can be with us, rescue us and heal our brokenness,” explains Darren Mulligan, lead vocalist, We Are Messengers. “God is not removed and distant, but present with us in our humanity. Jesus is God with us.”

“God with Us” is a delightful little project. The closing track says it all, “Christ Our King”! This is a cool little piece with a bit of hip-hop mixed with a traditional holiday soundtrack. It rounds out a very respectable EP overall.

– Ken W.

The Isaacs – Natures Symphony in 423


The Isaacs
Natures Symphony in 423
New Day

This album was not what I had expected as I read the title. It’s not a relaxation type CD with nature sounds all over, no, it’s more of a reflective, personal prayer time collection of inspirational songs. The theme of nature is there, but I think it has more to do with the tranquility of nature and how it is like to be in a place where you are truly listening for God’s voice. There are 15 songs all together and for the musically inclined, it was recorded in the 423 tuning range, which is another relevant connection to nature, but to the untrained ear it’s not as relevant as just knowing it come across more gentle and meditative. I would suggest checking out their official website (or any of the online music outlets) for samples of “Natures Symphony.”

– Ken W.

Leeland – Invisible


Bethel Music

I am really late with this review, since the album came out this past June. However, since it is their first album in over 5 years, I think it deserves a bit more attention than it received. I have always been a fan of Leeland’s music and particularly their way of tackling issues in a thoughtful way, as well as using their music to challenge our thought process when it comes to living a Christ-like life on a daily basis. They’ve done this well in the past and they continue to do so with “Invisible.”

However, this time, “Invisible,” seems to be more about our response to God. A response of adoration and reverence. It reminds me to “be still” and know that He is God and He is in control. God wants nothing but the best for each and every one of us and that’s so easy to miss in the business of life. I found that “Invisible” helped to draw me into a place where I was more readily able to listen for God’s calming voice.

If you have not already caught on to “Invisible,” I would suggest checking out to get hooked.

– Ken W.