Sunday, June 23, 2013

Music Review: Christmas! A Newsboys Holiday by Newsboys

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Fun versions of classic songs, the last track especially
Cons: Nothing original
The Bottom Line
Short - only 5 songs
Originals would be nice
What is here is fun

No Originals but Plenty of Fun with the Short Newsboys Christmas!

Somehow last year, I missed the fact that the Newsboys released a Christmas EP.  But when I was browsing for something to buy to hit a limit to use a coupon, I stumbled across it.  Since it was only $5 for 5 songs, I figured I couldn’t go wrong by trying Christmas! A Newsboys Holiday.

Before we go any further, I should point out that this disc features new Newsboys front man Michael Tait.  While I’ve never been the biggest Newsboys fan, I’ve always associated Peter Furler’s distinctive vocals with the group and will miss them as the band moves forward.

Those looking for original songs will be highly disappointed.  All five of these songs are traditional songs that everyone records.  Well, the first track the less often recorded “All I Want for Christmas is You.”  It gets things off to a run rock start.  Similarly upbeat are “Jingle Bell Rock” and “Winter Wonderland.”  This may be the most upbeat I’ve ever seen “Winter Wonderland.”  And they do both verses for this song, too.  Nothing about these arrangements is that surprising.  They’re rock versions of the songs.

They do slow things down of the one song about Jesus’ birth on the disc.  “O Holy Night” is properly reverent and respectful even though they do still use their electric guitars and drums for the music.  I’m a little surprised that this is the only religious song from a Christian band.  Not that I’m really going to complain because I do enjoy the disc.

If you don’t have the final track, it is worth every penny you’d spend alone.  The song was recorded several years ago when Tait was a solo artist and is a cover of the famous “The Christmas Song.”  This song feels very different from the first four on the disc because it uses an orchestra and even a harp.  And Tait’s voice is amazing here as he channels Nat King Cole, the man who made the song famous.  His voice is rich and lush and absolutely beautiful.  I’m not sure where all this recording was included; I do know I had it on one of my compilations discs that I rarely pull out.  I’d forgotten just how much I love it until I heard it again.

In place of a full length Christmas release, Newsboys fans will be pleased with Christmas! A Newsboys Holiday.  Hopefully, next time they will include some original songs to round out a release.

CD Length: 17:31
1. All I Want for Christmas is You
2. Jingle Bell Rock
3. O Holy Night
4. Winter Wonderland
5. The Christmas Song

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