Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Music Review: Christmas: God with Us by Jeremy Camp

Stars: 3 out of 5
Pros: Fun arrangements of the classics
Cons: Needs more original songs to truly stand out
The Bottom Line
Enjoy the classics
Not enough originals
To make it stand out

Jeremy Camp Provides an Enjoyable Yet Average Christmas Recording

I had pretty much stop following Jeremy Camp since I haven't been that impressed with his last couple of CD's, but when I realized he was producing a Christmas project, I had to give it a try.  At first, I really enjoyed Christmas: God with Us.  But the more I've listened to it, I've realized it's only average.

The biggest strike against this CD is that it only has one original track.  With my Christmas music collection, I need more original songs.  "God with Us" is a modern Christmas worship song.  Jeremy takes the lead on acoustic guitar while some strings help him out as he praise Jesus for coming to earth.  It's a nice song, and certainly wouldn't be out of place in a Christmas worship service.  But it doesn't live up to it's spot as the only original Christmas song here.

Now, again, there's nothing wrong with the arrangements of the classics on here.  Jeremy has done many of them over with his soft rock approach, and the results as certainly fun.  Things definitely get off to a rocking start with "Jingle Bell Rock."  If you aren't smiling and tapping your toes by the time it's over, there is something wrong with you.  "Let is Snow" is the most upbeat I've heard it, and the acoustic guitar opening really sets the mood.

And Jeremy throws in some new tag lines to some classic Christmas hymns.  "We bring glory to Your name" certainly fits into the ramped up, electric guitar driven "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing."  Jeremy sings "Hallelujah, Christ is born" in his upbeat but understated version of "Joy to the World."  The bells on this number are a fun touch.

Even "Away in the Manger" is sped up a little here.  While not my favorite carol because it us usually so slow, I do like it here.

"Mary, Did You Know" is the worship anthem it was meant to be.  It kicks off with electric guitar and builds into a powerful conclusion.

There are really only two truly slower moments here.  The first of those is "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas."  It's still a tender song with hand plucked guitar as backing.  Slightly faster, "O Come O Come Emmanuel" combines guitar and strings for a gorgeous piece.  And while it took a time or two, I love the way he lets the strings end this piece.

So as you can see there is much to praise.  Yet there isn't much that calls out to me, and with the list of Christmas music I need to get through every year, I don't see myself pulling this one out that often.  On the other hand, I will enjoy hearing some of these songs pop up on my iPod, and I can easily see one spin through the CD player a year.

On the other hand, his many fans will probably love it.  It is perfectly in keeping with his style, and his spin on the classics is good.

So Jeremy Camp's Christmas: God with Us turns out to be nothing special.  The arrangements of the classics are good, but more original songs would have really helped it.

CD Length: 36:33
1. Jingle Bell Rock
2. Hark! The Herald Angels Sing
3. Joy to the World
4. O Little Town of Bethlehem
5. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas
6. Let it Snow
7. Mary Did You Know
8. God with Us
9. O Come O Come Emmanuel
10. Away in a Manger

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