Saturday, November 28, 2015

Music Review: MercyMe, It's Christmas by MercyMe

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Fresh, fun takes on traditional songs
Cons: The original tracks could be better
The Bottom Line:
Second Christmas disc
Different traditionals
Make for fun listen

Once Again, a Christmas Disc that Grows on You

While MercyMe’s first Christmas CD is not one I pull out as soon as Christmas hits each year, I do find myself enjoying it when I pull it out.  That’s why, when I saw they were releasing MercyMe, It's Christmas this year, I knew I had to buy it.  Once again, it took a little time to grow on me, but I’m definitely enjoying it.

Unlike their first release, MercyMe has included several new tracks mixed in with the old standards.  In fact, the disc opens with two of those new tracks.  Up first is “Newborn,” this midtempo song mixes a few new lines together with “Away in the Manger” and “Hark! The Hearld Angels Sing” Unfortunately, I don’t quite find it that fresh.  I think I would have preferred them to do the songs individually.

I do enjoy the next track, “Christmastime Again,” which revels in the joys of the season even if December seems to come faster and faster each year.  This is a fun upbeat track that will definitely get you into the mood.  Linked in my mind is another new track “Hold On, Christmas,” a song about wanting to get home for the holiday.

Rounding out the new tracks is “Our Lullaby.”  For a lullaby, it’s surprisingly upbeat, but it is fun and it touches on who Jesus is and what he came to do.  It’s actually my favorite of the original songs on this disc.

Which leaves us with the traditional songs.  Now, you may know the words, and you may think you know the melody, but trust me, they’ve all gotten a MercyMe makeover.

Take, for example, “Sleigh Ride.”  This song is arranged just differently enough to make it feel fresh, yet you’ll definitely recognize it.  It’s got MercyMe’s soft rock stamped all over it, and the result is fantastic.  It’s just so much fun.  “I’ll be Home for Christmas” is slightly faster than normal, but it works.  “Holly Jolly Christmas” is a soft rock song, not the folk track that Burl Ives made famous, but it is probably the closest to a version you would recognize.  And, since they have to go slightly country at some point, there’s “Go Tell It on the Mountain.”

About the only traditional song that doesn’t work is “Joy,” their take on “Joy to the World.”  It’s just too slow for my taste.  This is a song that’s supposed to be joyful, right?
Leading the pack for most unusual is “O Come, O Come.”  They’ve given this song a complete makeover, including a major key and an arrangement that sounds more like a traditional hymn.  This one takes a listen or two to appreciate, but I do like it for something different.

And, honestly, that’s what works well for the many traditional songs on here.  They don’t sound like every other version of the song you have, which is great come December 15th.

While these traditional songs are fun, I do with the originals were better.  Overall, I know I will enjoy MercyMe, It's Christmas this December and many more to come, and I think you will as well.

CD Length: 41:23
1. Newborn
2. Christmastime Again
3. Sleigh Ride
4. I’ll Be Home for Christmas
5. Hold on Christmas
6. A Holly Jolly Christmas
7. Go Tell It on the Mountain
8. Do You Hear What I Hear
9. Our Lullaby
10. Joy
11. O Come, O Come

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