A Classic Christmas| Posted November 07, 2016
Few voices in CCM are as soft and pure yet still bold and authoritative as JJ Heller's. Still enjoying the release of last year's Sound Of A Living Heart, JJ has been on tour most of this year with friends Jason Gray and Josh Wilson. She is preparing now to release her debut Christmas album, Unto Us.Unto Us came to life through a highly successful Kickstarter campaign that saw JJ raise over $80,000 to fund this project. Produced by Ben Shive and Brown Bannister, JJ mixed together all the emotion and love of Christmas time with songs new and old alike into an album that will soon become a holiday favorite in the hearts of fans.
Opening with the characteristic sweetness and tender vocals we've come to adore from Heller, "Winter Wonderland" and "White Christmas" introduce JJ's personal touch to beloved Christmas classics. A highlight on this album, JJ's rendition of "I'll Be Home For Christmas" shines alongside her uplifting cover of "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas." Joyful "Let It Snow" provides an upbeat tune before heading into the slower ballads "O Little Town Of Bethlehem," "O Come O Come Emmanuel" and "Silent Night," which all showcase beautiful instrumentation as a backdrop to JJ's effortlessly smooth voice.
As for the original tracks featured on this album, the title cut comes straight from scripture and lays out the Christmas story simply yet gracefully: "Unto us a Child is born / unto us a Son is given / unto us a Child is born and He shall be called Emmanuel." "Christmas Is Here" feels wintery with its bells and choir accompanying JJ's elegant, soaring vocals. Tinted by a hint of southern style, peppy "Oh, To See Christmas" speaks of the infectious wonder of children around this time of year.
The Bottom Line: With so many Christmas albums being released, it's a challenge to make each one special. JJ's unique voice alone sets Unto Us apart from the rest, but beyond that, the instrumental arrangements and well-written originals also make this an album to be enjoyed this Christmas season. As they opted out of totally reimagining the classics and stuck to more of the classic Christmas music sound, they did so in such a way that still made the songs feel fresh. Another successful crowd-funded project, the Hellers should indeed be proud of their work here.
Song To Download Now:
"Christmas Is Here" (Get it on iTunes here.)