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Reviews of 4 New Christmas Music Releases – Part 2

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Here are reviews of new holiday releases that you might be interested in.

Sing: Christmas Songs – Ellie Holcomb

*** ½

I was introduced to Ellie Holcomb at the Getty’s Sing! conference. Her 2021 album Canyon was one of my favorites last year. You can read my review of Canyon here.
Holcomb is back with a six-song Christmas EP Sing: Christmas Songs, which accompanies her latest children’s book Sounding Joy. The EP, which will be enjoyed by all ages, features three new original songs as well as her interpretation of traditional carols and holiday favorites. The book and album were inspired by the song “Joy to the World” by Isaac Watts, and the album is an invitation to sing about the hope we have. The album was produced by Christmas music legend Brown Bannister.

Here are a few brief comments about each song:
Sounding Joy – This was the first song released from the project, and was written by Holcomb and Nathan Dugger. The song begins with church bells, and features drums, bass, guitar, and a children’s choir.
Key lyric:
God sent His Son to make heaven our home
So, every Christmas, every girl, and each boy
Could lift up their voice and repeat sounding joy

Glad Tidings – This song was written by Holcomb and Nathan Dugger. This joyful song about the coming of Christ features an Irish sound, with fiddle, laughter, hand clap/stomp, drums, bass, guitar, and backing vocals.
Key lyric:
The Lord has come
The wait is done
Glad tidings angels bring

Let it Snow/Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer/Deck the Halls/Joy to the World – This medley of well-known Christmas songs was written by Jule Styne, Sammy Cahn, Johnny Marks, Thomas Oliphant and Isaac Watts. The arrangements are upbeat and joyful, excellent for singing along to.

Jingle Bells – This song was written by Holcomb and James Pierpont. The arrangement, featuring some new lyrics from Holcomb, is upbeat and joyful, excellent to for singing along to.

Emmanuel, God Is With Us – This joyful and upbeat song was written by Nathan Dugger. The song features keys, piano, guitar, bass, drums, backing vocals, and a memorable chorus.

O Come All Ye Faithful – This song was written by John Francis Wade. The simple arrangement, featuring guitar, keys and backing vocals, makes this song excellent to sing along to.

Favorite songs:
Sounding Joy
Glad Tidings
Emmanuel, God Is With Us

Listen to Sing: Christmas songs here.

this is our Christmas album – Switchfoot 
** ½ 

this is our Christmas album is Switchfoot’s first Christmas release. The digital release of the album includes five holiday classics and six new original Christmas songs. I found the album somewhat disappointing in that some of the new songs are rather somber, lyrically and musically. I agree with a reviewer who said that an alternate title of the album could have been This is Our Melancholy Christmas Album. In addition, the covers of the Christmas standards lacked creativity and energy.

Here are a few comments about each song:
California Christmas – This was the first song released from the album, and the best song on the project. It was written by Jon Foreman and Tim Foreman. This song is about a California Christmas where there are twinkling lights on the fake palm trees. The song features Beach Boys like vocals, keys, drums, bass, and guitar.
Key lyric:
Ring the Christmas bell down at the Hotel Del
And I’ll be wishing you a California, California Christmas  

Looking For Christmas – This new original is a slower paced and rather somber – both lyrically and musically. The song features guitar, bass, keys, and backing vocals. He’s looking for something more real, more than just a feel at Christmas.
Key lyric:
I’m still looking for Christmas
Tell me what Christmas means
Tell me what’s the worth
Singing peace on earth
When there’s war on the TV screen?

Christmas Time Is Here – This song, from the Charlie Brown Christmas program and album, was written by Vince Guaraldi and Lee Mendelson. The song drags a bit, featuring guitar, bass, keys, drums and a brief guitar solo.

Scrappy Little Christmas Tree – This short new original rocker, about a scrappy three-foot-tall Christmas tree, features guitar, drums, bass, and a guitar solo.

Silent Night/It Came Upon A Midnight Clear – “Silent Night” was written by Joseph Mohr and “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear” was written by Edmund H. Sears. The medley features keys, bass, drums, backing vocals and a guitar solo.

I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day – This song was written by Henry W. Longfellow. The song features guitar, backing vocals, bass, keys and drums.

Midlife Christmas – This slow new original has a similar theme to “Looking for Christmas”. The song features guitar, bass, drums and backing vocals.
Key lyric:
And the puzzle piece that’s missing
Is the innocence I’ve grown
Welcome to my midlife Christmas

The Christmas Song – This song was written by Robert Wells and Mel Torme. The song features guitar, drums, and bass.

New Year’s Day – This song was written by Jon Foreman. It was first released on social media in 2015 as a song of hope in response to terrorist attacks in Paris. The song features guitar, drums, bass, keys, and backing vocals.
Key lyric:
I think we’re gonna make it after all

O Little Town Of Bethlehem – This song was written by Phillips Brooks. The song features keys, guitar, bass, drums, and a keyboard solo.

Hometown Christmas – This upbeat song, included on the digital release, was released as a single for Christmas 2021 and features NEEDTOBREATHE and JUDAH. The song was written by Jon Foreman, Bear Rinehart and Judah Akers, and features, guitar, backing vocals, drums, and bass. The song features a sample of “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing”, written by Charles Wesley and Felix Mendelssohn.
Key lyrics:
‘Cause you’re not alone when
Those porch lights are shining
It’s your invitation to the love that’s been waiting
One thing on my wish list
It’s a hometown Christmas, yeah

Favorite Songs:
California Christmas
Scrappy Little Christmas Tree
I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day
New Year’s Day
Hometown Christmas

What new Christmas music releases are you excited about this year?

Author: Bill Pence

I’m Bill Pence – married to my best friend Tammy, a graduate of Covenant Seminary, St. Louis Cardinals fan, formerly a manager at a Fortune 50 organization, and in leadership at my local church. I am a life-long learner and have a passion to help people develop, and to use their strengths to their fullest potential. I am an INTJ on Myers-Briggs, 3 on the Enneagram, my top five Strengthsfinder themes are: Belief, Responsibility, Learner, Harmony, and Achiever, and my two StandOut strength roles are Creator and Equalizer. My favorite book is the Bible, with Romans my favorite book of the Bible, and Colossians 3:23 and 2 Corinthians 5:21 being my favorite verses. Some of my other favorite books are The Holiness of God and Chosen by God by R.C. Sproul, and Don’t Waste Your Life by John Piper. I enjoy music in a variety of genres, including modern hymns, Christian hip-hop and classic rock. My book Called to Lead: Living and Leading for Jesus in the Workplace and Tammy’s book Study, Savor and Share Scripture: Becoming What We Behold are available in paperback and Kindle editions on Amazon.

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