Christmas music has increasingly become one of the most prolific seasons of the year for new releases in Christian music and 2019 is no exception in introducing a new class of holiday-themed tunes looking to make their way onto your seasonal playlists. We’ll take a look at some of the yuletide contenders for your ears.
Danny Gokey - The Greatest Gift: A Christmas Collection
It seems like it’s not only becoming commonplace for Christian artists to release a Christmas project, but that it’s a regular thing for them to release several. Sometimes even just a few years apart. It’s not even been a full 5 years since Danny Gokey’s likeable first Christmas release. But Gokey is back with a sequel this year. The Greatest Gift: A Christmas Collection checks all the boxes for a Christian Christmas release, offering several cuts boasting 2 of Gokey’s signature sounds. “Until You” is sure to be a favorite at Christian radio and is a strong ballad on the true meaning of Christmas. Gokey’s fun side shows up in “The Holidays Are Here.” Most of the standards are done in a straightforward manner, but Gokey’s vocals make each one feel intimate and homely.
Lincoln Brewster - A Mostly Acoustic Christmas
Worship rocker Lincoln Brewster already has a holiday album under his belt. 2019 sees him releasing A Mostly Acoustic Christmas, balancing acoustic reworkings of previous renditions with some new offerings. Standouts include the classic Peanuts theme, “Linus and Lucy” and “Miraculum,” which translate well to the acoustic format.
Sara Groves - Joy of Every Longing Heart
Sara Groves has developed a fairly signature laid back folk sound. There’s little like her music around. She’s already released a Christmas project previously. 2019 sees her release Joy of Every Longing Heart, which sort of straddles the line between EP and LP with 8 tracks and an interlude. Groves has a history of reworking the melodies of popular carols and bringing out a new side to them. Several cuts here employ this tactic. “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” gets a laid back cinematic rework that shines a new emotional light on its lyrics. Perhaps most stark is “Winter Wonderland.” Far from the peppy danceable style the song is known for, Groves turns it into a reflective ballad that is surprisingly effective at reframing the lyrics with a whole new charm.
Phil Wickham - Christmas
Phil Wickham follows up his 2010 Songs for Christmas with a release simply titled Christmas. Wickham’s worshipful style lends itself well to a handful of standards, but he shines the brightest on the originals. While “This Year For Christmas” captures the spirit of the season well, it’s “The Face of God” that stands out as a highlight. Both soft and rousing, worshipful and reflective, this tune balances the best of good Christmas music to create one of 2019’s more memorable offerings.
Andrew Peterson - Behold the Lamb of God
Andrew Peterson’s Behold The Lamb of God was rerecorded this year with a whole slew of supporting artists. Andrew Peterson is one of CCM’s arthouse type musicians, delving into unique folk melodies and theologically rich lyrics. Songs like “Matthew’s Begets” are some of the most unique Christmas songs around and “Gather Round, Ye Children, Come” is sure to get you into a childlike spirit of the season.
Sidewalk Prophets - Merry Christmas To You (Great Big Family Christmas Edition)
Sidewalk Prophets gifted us several yuletide classics with their 2013 Christmas album, Merry Christmas To You. This rerelease named after their annual Christmas tour adds in a few more. The “title track” is a fun little addition that captures the energetic and playful vibe the band is known for. A “bonus” track of the earlier edition also gets a proper release, with “Don’t Forget The Star” serving as a fine companion to the band’s now standard Christmas originals.
Salt of the Sound - And on Earth, Peace
Haunting vocals and an ambient musical backing drive this EP, evoking feelings of a quiet snowy night. “O Holy Night” foregoes the “bringing down the house” style usually gone for in favor of embracing this “majestic winter night” feeling. “Star of Wonder (Gloria)” shoots to be a highlight of the project, exemplifying all the best traits of the style and creating a Christmas feeling that is more reflective and surreal than standard Christmas fare.