Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Music Review: Noel by Josh Wilson

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Great mix of classic and great new songs
Cons: I wouldn't complain if it were longer
The Bottom Line
Great new Christmas songs
With classics to set you mood
You won't go wrong here

Celebrate Noel with Josh Wilson's Great CD

I wasn't super surprised when I learned that Josh Wilson was releasing a Christmas CD this year.  After all, he's done a small Christmas tour the last two years.  I was super excited, however, and Noel is exactly what I wanted it to be.

The disc starts off with one of the two instrumental tracks on the disc.  Both of them are mostly guitar, although "The First Noel" starts off with some piano.  It's a nice introduction to the disc.  But hang on to your hats when you get to "Carol of the Bells."  It's a dueling guitar style song with acoustic and electric battling it out with bells for the percussion.  It's a great arrangement.

There are four new tracks here.  Of those, my least favorite is "Once a Year."  Don't get me wrong, I like the idea behind it.  It's a reminder that, while helping people during the holidays is good, the poor is in need of our help all year long.  I think it's just that the song is so obvious.

On the other hand, the other three songs are awesome.  "Jesus is Alive" focuses on the hope that Jesus' birth gives us in our struggles with sin and death.  It's a song of celebration that features bells and guitar in an upbeat piece that lifts my spirits in praise for what God has done.  "Christmas Changes Everything" has a similar theme to it, but despite a bombastic opening, it has a slower tempo that leads itself even more to worship.

And that leaves us with "Almost Christmas."  This is really the only song on the disc that talks about the holiday from a traditions point of view, and I love it.  His excitement is contagious and perfectly captures the holiday for me.  There's sax on this song that adds some fun to this toe tapping number.

Which leaves us with the four traditional songs on the disc.  "Do You Hear What I Hear?" and "Angels We Have Heard on High" are fairly traditional versions.  Yes, they have Josh's twists on things and his wonderful guitar playing, but it's easy to sing along right away.  Josh is joined by Mandisa for a fun Southern Gospel flavored take on "Go, Tell it on the Mountain."

But my favorite of the traditional songs is "O Come, O Come Emmanuel."  It's got a dramatic rock underpinning driving by electric guitar.  It's a lot of fun and really fits the song perfectly.  I really enjoy it when he goes into what I am guessing is Hebrew near the end for some added flair.

I was a little surprised that he didn't chose to include his song "Sing" from Life is Not a Snapshot since it has a Christmas theme.  But that's a minor issues.

This disc has a great combination of traditional songs and original tracks, which fresh arrangements to liven things up.  I have a feeling I will be reaching for this disc early for many Christmases to come.

And so if you are looking to buy just one new Christmas CD this year, I can't recommend Josh Wilson's Noel highly enough.  This is a great project you'll enjoy for years to come.

CD Length: 35:56
1. The First Noel (Instrumental)
2. Jesus is Alive
3. Go, Tell It on the Mountain (featuring Mandisa)
4. Do You Hear What I Hear?
5. Christmas Changes Everything
6. Almost Christmas
7. O Come, O Come Emmanuel
8. Carol of the Bells (Instrumental)
9. Angels We Have Heard on High
10. Once a Year (featuring Andrew Peterson)

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