An Unconventional Christmas
Posted December 02, 2013
By SarahFine_NRT, Staff Reviewer
Call him old fashioned, but Dove Award winning CCM mainstay Brandon Heath fancies Christmas much like the high-class department store Nordstrom. He is more than happy to indulge in all things marry and bright... just as long as it's after Thanksgiving.
So you can imagine how strange it must have been for the self-proclaimed holiday purist (who by the way, has proudly coined the hashtag #ChristmasIsntHereYet over on his Twitter account), to have spent most of the summer recording his first seasonal record, ironically titled Christmas Is Here.
While I can't say I agree much with his stern timeframe on the holiday—you're talking to the girl who would proudly display her tree and lights in September if culturally acceptable—the one thing we do agree on is our love for the old, vinyl-like nostalgia Christmas music should bring to the table. A purist he is, but a traditional one at best.
With tradition in mind, it's only natural that the talented songwriter would delve deep into the roots of some old school classics on his first holiday outing, as well as penning a few new trademark Brandon Health-style original tunes.
"The Day After Thanksgiving" solidifies his outspoken stance on waiting till December to celebrate the holiday by poking fun at the Christmas commercialism that starts at the end of Summer. I'd be lying if I said it wasn't something downer to use this as the opening track for a Christmas album, but it serves for a good laugh nonetheless.
Shinier classics such as "O Little Town Of Bethlehem," "Away In A Manger" and "Go Tell It On The Mountain"—featuring the rustic vocal stylings of Gospel group The Isaacs—rekindle the tender spirit of the holiday, while a twinkling rendition of Nat King Cole's all-too covered classic "The Christmas Song" is enough to make you drop what you're doing and start decking the halls.
Pulling a gem from the trenches of obscurity, "In The Bleak Midwinter" become Heath's Americana nod to an overlooked Christmas tune of old, his signature vocals singing out the time-honored lyrics.
"Just A Girl" serves as one of the original songs he penned for the project. Taking creative liberty regarding the story surrounding Jesus' birth, he fashions the innkeepers' decision to keep Mary and Joseph from going inside the inn to that of having a reputation to keep, only to regret his decision later. It's an interesting perspective, and while some may say it's a tad controversial, it sure does offer something to chew on outside the usual warm and fuzzy holiday tune.
Once more bringing his hysterically unique point-of-view to the table, "Mama Wouldn't Lie To Me" tells the tale of his childhood woes regarding his belief in Santa Claus. Another one of Heath's time-honored traditions is that parents should never lie to their kids about Santa. I'll allow you to listen to the song for yourself to see how his story ends.
The album closes on a triumphantly grand note with the ageless "O Come All Ye Faithful/Angels We Have Heard On High" medley, which sounds like it was ripped directly from the pages of a brassy Broadway musical.
If I had to sum up Christmas Is Here in one word, it would be "unconventional." Then again, I don't think Brandon Heath ever strives for convention, as much as he does honesty, and that you'll certainly find here. Filled with Christmas classics and the occasional holiday hot-topic, this is a CD that is sure to please fans of the singer/songwriter, as well as any who might be looking for something a bit more out-of-the-box this holiday season.
Song To Download Now:
"The Christmas Song" (Get it on iTunes here.)
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