Making a Joyful Noise
Posted October 01, 2012
By MaryNikkel_NRT, Staff Reviewer
Lincoln Brewster is known for being one of the most musically skilled figures in the worship genre. His ability with a wide range of instruments has equipped him to create rich, layered songs grounded in his faith.
Taking on classic Christmas songs and seeking to create something fresh enough to hold an audience's interest is no easy task, but it's one that Brewster tackled armed with enough skill and experience to infuse new life into well-tread tracks.
Joy to the World kicks off with its title track, an infectiously upbeat rendition of the Christmas classic. "Little Drummer Boy" follows, and although the track is certainly centered around a driving rhythm (enhanced by a rap interlude provided by KJ-52), it manages to do so without feeling overly contrived. Despite the title, the track branches out to lean on an instrumentation scope much wider than just percussion.
"Hark! The Herald Angels Sing" is another incredibly joyful track. Although elements like sleigh bells are present, Lincoln Brewster doesn't use Christmas conventions as a crutch, allowing his skill on a wide variety of other instruments to shine as well in the arrangements. "Shout For Joy" carries a more traditional worship sound, employing a sweeping sonic landscape richly detailed with shimmering lyrics.
Although some would find Chris Tomlin's monster hit "Our God" to be an unusual addition to a Christmas collection, Brewster makes the cut fit well with overall theme of unrestrained joy. He even throws a bit of the Christmas classic "O Come All Ye Faithful" into the mix to draw it in line with the rest of the album.
"Miraculum" is an instrumental selection that easily holds its own with the vocal tracks. Here Lincoln Brewster's ability to give an electric guitar a passionate, almost reverent voice shines, his work on the guitar strings binding together the other elements for a hauntingly beautiful whole. The breathtaking guitar work voices the melody of "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen," backed by intense instrumental layers worthy of Trans-Siberian Orchestra.
His rendition of "Oh Come Oh Come Emmanuel" follows the same musical tone, though more restrained and leaning more heavily on steady percussion. The haunting song voices the cry of a broken people awaiting their Redeemer. "Do You Hear What I Hear" re-introduces the unashamed celebratory theme of the earlier tracks.
"O Holy Night (Another Hallelujah)" is a slower paced song, which is well suited to the melody. Lincoln Brewster does a solid job adapting the almost operatic style of the tune to the adult contemporary format. His addition of a piece of Leonard Cohen's famous "Hallelujah" is achieved with enough subtlety to work. The collection ends on a gentle note with "Silent Night." The guitar work here is understated, almost jazz-inspired, beneath the soft vocals
As the holiday season approaches, this is one album well worth picking up to set the tone. Although the album draws wholly on already established songs, it does so with a lack of pretension and an enthusiastic tone which sinks into each selection. Brewster's musical skill with both his guitar and his voice is nearly unparalleled, and his thoughtful blend of celebration and reverence make this record well worth many spins throughout the winter months.
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