Thursday, February 21, 2013

Music Review: Home for Christmas by Amy Grant

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Twelve tracks that will get you in the Christmas spirit.
Cons: None.
The Bottom Line:
Amy does it twice
Creating Christmas magic
With just these twelve tracks

Still Amy Best Christmas Album

Home for Christmas is the second of Amy Grant's three Christmas CD's. While I completely enjoy Amy Grant's other Christmas albums, this is the best of her career. Everything from the song selection to vocals and background music comes together for a Christmas treat.

The album mixes traditional, lesser known, and original songs, and strikes the right balance of new and traditional to make it seem like Christmas but not like all the others you already have. Part of this is in the arrangements, which are pure magic.

"It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year" and "The Night before Christmas" are songs that aren't recorded too often (in fact this was my first recording of both), but I love their joy of the season. They're an upbeat nostalgic looks at my favorite holiday.

Original song "Breath of Heaven" still amazes me with its look into the conflicting feelings Mary must have been dealing with as she awaited Jesus' birth. It's such a beautiful prayer.

"Emmanuel, God with Us" ties the birth of Christ to our modern celebration in a humbling way. I fell in love with this song the first time I heard the bridge.
And the years they come
And the years they go
Though we may forget somehow
That the child once born in Bethlehem
Is still among us now.
Frankly, I can use a reminder about Emmanuel every day of the year.

I now have several different version of "Grown-up Christmas List," including one that tries to Christianize it. But this version, the first I ever heard, is my favorite. It's a song of hope that we really can overcome the ills that have been plaguing man since the dawn of time.

"Rockin' around the Christmas Tree" and "Winter Wonderland" are fun, upbeat arrangements of Christmas classics. "Have a Merry Little Christmas" is fast becoming a Christmas favorite, helped tremendously by Amy's slow, thoughtful version here.

Amy's vocals are helped by wonderful orchestration. There is something about a full orchestra that just screams Christmas to me, and this CD captures that feel.

The last track on the CD is "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring." I can guarantee you haven't heard a version like this before. While the orchestra plays Bach's masterpiece, it occasionally stops for an interlude led by bagpipes. It took a couple listens for me to fully be on board, but there is something about this track that works.

I have been known to enjoy Home for Christmas all year long. I have been enjoying it every year since it first came out and can't see any reason why I will stop any time soon.

Running Time: 42:39
1. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas
2. It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year
3. Joy to the World/For unto Us a Child is Born
4. Breath of Heaven (Mary's Song)
5. O Come all Ye Faithful
6. Grown-up Christmas List
7. Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree
8. Winter Wonderland
9. I'll be Home for Christmas
10. The Night Before Christmas
11. Emmanuel, God with Us
12. Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring

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