Saturday, November 10, 2012

Christmas CD reviews: Collingsworth Family, Jeremy Camp, Scotty McCreery, Steven Curtis Chapman

I love Christmas music and tend to buy a lot of it. Every Christmas, I buy a few new Christmas CDs. I've bought 4 so far this year and decided to get away from politics for a while and do a short review of them.

The Collingsworth Family: Feels Like Christmas.
Genre: Southern Gospel
Track listing:
  • Winter Wonderland/Sleigh Ride
  • Christmas Can't Be Far Away
  • It's The Most Wonderful Time of The Year
  • Christmas Time Is Here
  • Overture/Silent Night/What Child Is This
  • Beautiful Star of Bethlehem
  • Peace On Earth Tonight
  • Mary's Little Boy Child/Jesus, What A Wonderful Child
  • My Gift Is Me
  • O Magnify The Lord
  • Who Is He in Yonder Stall
  • O Holy Night
  • I Wish It Could Be Christmas Forever
  • My thoughts:
    I really like the Collingsworth Family's singing, but am a little disappointed in the CD, to be honest. It is good, but not as good as I'd hoped. There are a couple of instrumental tracks, and I would have preferred a whole vocal CD for one thing. The best song is "Beautiful Star of Bethlehem, though there are other decent offerings. Not impressed with "Mary's Boy Child/Jesus, What  Wonderful Child." To put the two songs together, they changed the style of "Mary's Boy Child", and not for the better. Kim does a new song that is neat. "Peace On Earth Tonight" which would have been better in my opinion if it had not been 100% solo.

    Thet did record a couple of new songs and a few others that aren't often recorded, which is a good thing. If I were giving the CD stars, I'd probably go with 3 1/2. It is a decent, good CD, but not great.


    Jeremy Camp: Christmas, God Is With Us
    Style: CCM/pop

    Track listing:
    1. Jingle Bell Rock
    2. Hark The Herald Angels Sing
    3. Joy To The World
    4. O Little Town Of Bethlehem
    5. Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas
    6. Let It Snow
    7. Mary Did You Know
    8. God With Us
    9. O Come, O Come Emmanuel
    10. Away In A Manger
    My thoughts:

    I like Jeremy Camp's voice, and even his style. I don't listen to a lot of CCM (Christian Contemporary Music), and don't have all of Jeremy's music. I think I have one other actual CD and a few other songs. Some of his stuff tends to be too rocky for me, so I pick and choose.

    If you're wanting an easy listening CD, this is not a CD for you. It isn't a wild, rocky album, but it is much more lively than a Carpenters' Christmas CD.

    All but one song, the title cut, are traditional songs, which I don't particularly like on a Christmas CD. I like new songs or songs that a million other artists haven't recorded. However, Jeremy does do them in a different style, and I like it. He adds some new material to "Joy to the World" which I assume he wrote, which comes off rather well.

    "Mary Did You Know" is one of my favorite Christmas songs, and he does a great job on it. There really aren't any songs I wish he had left off. He did something on one song that I really like. It is a pet peeve of mine when a Christian artists records "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" and sings the line "if the fates allow". I heard one artist substitute "Lord" for "fates" and liked it much better, and it goes much better with our beliefs. Fate does not rule our lives, God does. Jeremy does substitute "God" for "fates." Kudos to him.

    If you regularly listen to CCM, you will love this. If you listen to some CCM, you should like it, but if you tend to listen to easy listening, Southern Gospel, or Country, you may not enjoy it. Stars? I'd give it 5.


    Scotty McCreery: Christmas
    Style: Country

    Track listing:
    1. Let It Snow
    2. First Noel
    3. Jingle Bells
    4. Holly Jolly Christmas
    5. Winter Wonderland
    6. Christmas In Heaven
    7. Mary Did You Know?
    8. Christmas Comin’ Round Again
    9. O Holy Night
    10. The Christmas Song
    11. Santa Claus Is Back In Town

    Scotty McCreery was the winner of American Idol last year. I do not keep up with it, never watched it, and will not give my blunt opinion of the show here, I just am not impressed with it. Buying this CD had nothing to do with American Idol. My best friend had bought it and liked it and I had a really good coupon to use on it (40%).

    My thoughts:

    This CD is filled with mostly classic songs. It does have two new, at least to me, songs: Christmas In Heaven and Christmas Comin' Round Again, both of which I like. Scotty has a decent voice, a much more mature sounding voice than you'd espect from his 19 years. He does put his own spin on the classic songs, and I like most of what I hear. He does "Jingle Bells" in a different style that I don't particularly care for, but it isn't terrible either. I like "Mary Did You Know", "Winter Wonderland",  and "Christmas In Heaven" the best. He ended an otherwise very good CD with the song "Santa Claus Is Back In Town". I can't stand that song, but other than that: great CD, and one I am enjoying a lot. 4 1/2 stars, if I rated it.

    I couldn't find a preview of the CD, but here is one of the songs from it that I really like: Christmas In Heaven.

    Steven Curtis Chapman: Joy
    Style: CCM, easy listening, older

    Track listing:
    1. Joy To The World
    2. Christmas Time Again
    3. Christmas In Kentucky
    4. Do You Hear What I Hear?
    5. Christmas Kiss
    6. Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!
    7. Christmas Time Is Here
    8. What Child Is This?
    9. In The Bleak Midwinter
    10. Christmas Card
    11. We Three Kings
    12. I Am Joseph (God Is With Us)
    13. Happy New Year

    My thoughts:

    Overall, I am not a big SCC fan. I like some of his songs a lot, and others...... not so much. I do not buy his regular CDs, but do have some of his songs. However, I do like his Christmas CDs, and already had 3 of them. He first did "Music of Christmas", then Hallmark had him do a Christmas CD for them, "Christmas Is All In The Heart", followed by "All I Want for Christmas." Unfortunately, the first is the only one with all new material. The second had some new, and some from the first CD. The third CD had some new and some from the other two. To be honest, I figured this new release would be the same, but it is not. It has 13 Christmas songs not previously recorded by SCC.

    Six of the songs are new, written by SCC. The other seven are tradional songs, most of them often recorded by other artists. One song that I like and it is not often recorded is "In The Bleak Midwinter", and he does a great job on it.

    It is hard to pin down the style of this CD. He is CCM, but this doesn't sound CCM. It is very easy listening, and almost sounds like something from the 60's or 70's in some ways, but with a more modern sound, if that makes sense. If you listened to this CD, then went and bought one of his non-Christmas CDs expecting the same sound, you'd be very surprised. It doesn't even sound like his other Christmas CDs. He seemed to be going for a sound from older decades for most of the CD, and though I don't typically like music older than myself, I like the sound he pulled off. His new songs are very good, and he does a great job on the classics. Don't be put off by the unique cover photo, this is a great CD, and even people who don't normally like CCM and Steven Curtis' music, would enjoy this.

    A song from the CD, Joy to the World: