2009 Christmas Album Roundup

Christmas is just around the corner, and the holiday music is gearing up. Check out this year's new music:

Christmas reviews from previous years are also still available. And there's also a special review page for those classic Christmas albums.

Various Artists
Gotta Have Gospel! Christmas
Integrity / Verity

 Nothing quite gets you ready for the Yuletide season better than a solid Christmas album. With so many albums in the marketplace, rarely can one find a number of Christmas favorites all in one recorded package. Gotta Have Gospel! comes to the rescue! Running seven volumes strong now, the Gotta Have Gospel! series has become one of the genres most popular compilation sets, finding a regular home on the Billboard charts. The series now submits its first Christmas offering... Read the full review.

Michael McDonald
This Christmas
Razor & Tie

 For the better part of three decades, the music world has been enriched by the soulful sounds of Michael McDonald. From his time with The Doobie Brothers to an amazing solo career, McDonald has been a part of some of music's most exciting moments. Thirty four years and some fourteen albums later, McDonald returns with his fifteenth release and third Christmas effort, this one... Read the full review.

The Clark Sisters
The Clark Sisters' Family Christmas
Karew Records / EMI Gospel

 The buzz factor is high on this project from The Clark Sisters, a mostly live-recorded session that features not only the four sisters, but shots from J. Moss, Kierra Sheard, Bill Moss Jr. and J. Drew Sheard III as well. Asaph A. Ward produces.

Look for the a cappella "Oh Come Emmanuel" to send shivers down your spine, and the jazzed up renditions of the always-popular "This Christmas" (with J. Moss prominent) and "Do You Hear What I Hear", both delivered in typical Clark style . On the David Meece classic "We Are The Reason", Bill Moss Jr. steps up with choir in tow to deliver a heart-stopping cover. Kierra steps in front of the mic on "Silver Bells".

Also included in this keeper is a traditional arrangement of the Asaph Ward penned "Celebration", choir-supported "Silent Night" (with Jackie up front) and, incredibly, a heart-warming moment with the "Chipmunk Song", (complete with references to hula hoops and cries of "Alvin!!!!"). Don't miss the Karen and Kierra duet on "Hark The Herald Angels Sing" and siblings J. Drew and Kierra together on "Beautiful Christmas".

Aaron Lindsey
Coming Home For The Holidays

 If you haven't heard, award-winning producer Aaron Lindsey (known for his work with Israel & New Breed, Marvin Sapp, RiZen, Alvin Slaughter, Karen Clark Sheard and most recently, Byron Cage) —has released a Christmas album.

This is an innovative and boisteriously-fun project that puts this artist's personality on display. Word is that he put it together at the request of his wife, who was in need of some fresh Christmas music.

Selections range from the bouncy zydeco-influence of "Down Home Louisiana Christmas" to the jazzy keyboard/instrumental cuts ("Silent Night", "Let It Snow", "Angels We Have Heard On High / O Come Let Us Adore Him", "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen"), plus a vocal version of carol favorite "Silent Night".

Other notable cuts are the upbeat original "Holiday Frenzy" and the beautiful "Christmas Prayer (Watch Over)".

Beckah Shae
Shae Shoc Records

 Following up on her 2008 sophomore project (Joy), Beckah Shae together with producer/husband Jack "Shoc" Shocklee gift us with Emmanual, a 10-song holiday set from this promising vocalist. With her chameleon sound palette (pop, hip-hop, neo-soul) at the ready, Shae dips in and paints Christmas with familiar melodies such as "O Come All Ye Faithful" and "Angels We Have Heard On High", but also some originals such as "Because He's Born" and "Christmas Love".

"Carol Of the Bells" is purely instrumental, with Shocklee handling the musical duties. On "Kadosh (Holy One)", Shae references her Jewish ancestry (the word "kadosh" conveys the concept of holiness in Hebrew), with gorgeously-layered harmonies. "Because He's Born" is a song of comfort directed to Mary by the angels, and refers to the characteristics that her new baby will have, and the role that He will play. Other notables on this project are "Do You Hear What I Hear", and "Most Beautiful Time of the Year".

Trin-i-tee 5:7
Love, Peace, Joy at Christmas
Spirit Rising Music / Music World Entertainment

 Trin-i-tee 5:7 steps up with their first-ever Christmas project, a 2-disc affair (one a 10-song audio CD, the other a 5-song DVD featuring footage from Gospel Music Channel's special, "Christmas at Union Station".) Love, Peace, Joy at Christmas is festive and enjoyable set of familiar material that puts the focus on the seasoned vocals of urban Gospel's veteran female trio. Nice production work from The Bama Boyz puts a sheen on the entirety.

Angel, Chanelle and Adrian put their signature sound to songs such as "Mary Did You Know", "Little Drummer Boy" and "Silent Night". Wintery cuts such as "Winter Wonderland", "This Christmas" an "The Christmas Song" also make the mark. Interestingly, the award-winning trio also covers the Michael Jackson hit, "Give Love On Christmas Day". A cover of Chris Rice's "Welcome To Our World" also makes the grade, providing a nice inclusion to the more traditional set. To top it off, there's a bonus featuring labelmate Brian Courtney Wilson on his cover of "This Christmas".

On the DVD side, you can relive T57's television special on the Gospel Music Channel, since half of the songs on the audio CD are presented in visual format.

— reviewed by Stan North—

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