New Music Reviews – Mid-October Christmas Releases

by David Bruce Murray | October 19, 2019 3:29 PM

Click HERE[1] to enjoy these three albums and more Christmas music for free on YouTube Music.

A True Family Christmas by The Collingsworth Family packs 21 songs into 13 tracks (including 11 spread over 3 medleys!). Most of the songs titles are familiar carols with a few new selections added to the mix.

Pros: This recording is an orchestral tour de force. Bradley Knight’s production is top-notch, and I even enjoyed the trumpet solo. “Sleigh Ride” is now my favorite Kim Collingsworth piano solo. Most of her past performances are flashy displays of virtuosity (sometimes to a bombastic point), but here she takes several playful trips down little rabbit trails to set this arrangement apart.

“We Do Christmas Like We Mean It” is a good new song. The narrated medley “The Story Of The First Christmas” is a nice way to close the album as well.

Cons: Stacking a lot of Christmas standards on a Christmas recording is pretty much expected, but this project is begging for a few more new songs. To their credit, a couple of lesser-known remakes are included: “Another Christmas Closer” (Millikin Family) and “Isn’t That Why He Came” (Old Paths).

Producers: Bradley Knight
Label: Stow Town Records
Song Titles: Christmas Spirit Medley (Spirit Of The Season/Caroling Carolina/We Need A Little Christmas); Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas; Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!; Sleigh Ride; We Do Christmas Like We Mean It; Home For Christmas Medley (There’s No Christmas Like A Home Christmas/Home For The Holidays); Another Christmas Closer; I Call Him Lord; Carol Of The Bells; I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day; Isn’t That Why He Came; Mary Did You Know; The Story Of The First Christmas (O Little Town Of Bethlehem/Away In A Manger/The First Noel/O Come All Ye Faithful/We Three Kings/O Holy Night)
Rating: 4 1/2 Stars (scale of 1-5 Stars)
Release Date: October 18, 2019
Version Reviewed: YouTube Music

Donna King’s All The Lights provides an even split of previously recorded songs and brand new music. 5 of the 10 tracks are covers of songs previously recorded; 4 selections are co-written by King; and the other song is one she wrote on her own.

Pros: I’m happy when I see a cover song that hasn’t already been done to death like “Christ Is Born,” originally written Latin, and first recorded in English by Perry Como (1968). My favorite cover song on All The Lights is “Come On Ring Those Bells” mainly due to the fun percussion track.

King’s original songs are very good as well, both in terms of her vocal performance and songwriting quality. I was pleasantly surprised to hear her drop lower than her usual soprano range on “You’ll Find Christmas” and a few other spots.

Cons: I mentioned “Christ Is Born” as an example of a song that hasn’t been “done to death.” “Go Tell It On The Mountain,” on the other hand, has been done to death.

Producers: Zane and Donna King
Label: Journey Records
Song Titles: I Wonder As I Wander; All The Lights; Come On Ring Those Bells; Christ Is Born; Because Of A Baby; Go Tell It On The Mountain; You’ll Find Christmas; Anything Is Possible; There’s A New Kid In Town; The Gospel Wrapped Up In A Song (duet with Zane King)
Rating: 4 1/2 Stars (scale of 1-5 Stars)
Release Date: October 18, 2019
Version Reviewed: CD

The Erwins offer 10 songs on What Christmas Really Means. There are three new songs. The remaining selections are classics and cover versions of songs other artists have recorded.

Pros: To fans who mostly follow Southern Gospel, it may appear there are several more new song titles than three. In a perfect world, I’d like to see 7-8 new songs for every 2-3 remakes. The Erwins haven’t achieved that ratio, but it’s great they went to sources like Amy Grant (“Grown Up Christmas List”), Chris Tomlin (“Joy To The World/Unspeakable Joy”), Glad (“In The First Light”), and 4Him (“Season Of Love”) for material to cover rather than more obvious classics. “Give Me A Star” is also a cover song, but is not as well-known, having just been released in 2018 by Motown artist Brian Courtney Wilson.

The mid-tempo opener, “Good Will,” is the best of the three new songs followed by the title track.

Cons: The middle of this album really drags with “His Name Shall Be Called,” “In The First Light” and “O Come, O Come Emmanuel.”

Producers: Wayne Haun and Trey Ivey
Label: Stow Town Records
Song Titles: Good Will; Joy To The World (Unspeakable Joy); Grown Up Christmas List; What Christmas Really Means (featuring Leif Shires); His Name Shall Be Called; In The First Light; O Come O Come Emmanuel; Give Me A Star; The Season Of Love; Ordinary Baby
Rating: 4 Stars (scale of 1-5 Stars)
Release Date: October 18, 2019
Version Reviewed: YouTube Music

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