Quick Take Reviews: November Christmas Releases

Quick Take Reviews: November Christmas Releases

Click HERE to listen to all of these releases on YouTube Music.

Christmastime by Jim & Melissa Brady is a collection of duet arrangements that stands out from most recent seasonal releases due to the fact that many of the songs are brand new. This appealing aspect is derailed momentarily for a 6-minute overblown arrangement of “O Holy Night” that never really pays off. The cover of “Sleigh Ride” is pretty good, though. I also enjoyed “Sing,” which is a half-new song that starts with “Joy To The World.”

Rating: 4 Stars

Veritas is a talented a cappella group that formed in 2012. Simply Christmas is their new 5-song EP which features covers of well-known standards. The walking bass line on “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town” makes it one of the more interesting arrangements. “Do You Hear What I Hear?” has some amazing, intense harmonies on the intro, but becomes less interesting when the lead vocal starts. I was glad to hear a fresh version of “All Is Well,” which was originally introduced on Michael W. Smith’s first Christmas recording.

Rating: 4 Stars

Soloist Michael Wayne Smith (not to be confused with Michael W. Smith) has released a 12-song album titled Peace On Earth. Most of these songs are well-known standards, but a few are new. Smith’s versions of the classics are pretty much by the book with decent production quality. Although Peace On Earth does not appear to be a big-budget production, Smith makes the most of his resources by including a couple of songs with just piano for accompaniment.

Rating: 3 Stars

The Browns get off to a good start with the fun, fully orchestrated “Christmas In Our Hometown,” which also happens to be the title of the 11-track album. There’s a healthy mix of new and familiar songs, but as with most Christmas recordings, I wish they’d be more creative with the songs we already know vs. doing them the same way we’ve heard them over and over in the past. That aside, the new songs on Christmas In Our Hometown here are well-written, produced, and performed. I especially enjoyed the novelty song, “Hot Chocolate,” even though it’s weird jumping from that song directly to a somber arrangement, “Night Of Hope.”

Rating: 3 1/2 Stars

Johnny Minick’s The Joy Of Christmas consists strictly of traditional titles you should immediately recognize. Minick is best-known for his years traveling with Howard and Vestal Goodman. In recent years, he’s explored Western swing and produced recordings for various other artists. Here Minick is a bit of a country crooner, and definitely not a dull one. Near the end of “Silent Night,” for example, he shows he’s capable of getting up into a tenor’s range. Minick is a good communicator of these lyrics, the production quality is very good, etc. You just may not find this recording to be unique enough in terms of song selection to warrant repeat listens.

Rating: 3 1/2 Stars

Jim & Melissa Brady
4 out of 5
4 out of 5
Michael Wayne Smith
3 out of 5
The Browns
3 out of 5
Johnny Minick
3 out of 5

Average rating for all 5 albums


3.4 out of 5

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Category CD Reviews, Reviews

David Bruce Murray

David Bruce Murray is a church music director in Ellenboro, NC. He is the author of Murray's Encyclopedia Of Southern Gospel Music and the owner of both SGHistory.com and MusicScribe.com. David plays piano for Southern Sounds Quartet and the Foothills Community Choir.

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