Friday, November 9, 2012
Christmas: God With Us ~ CD Review & Giveaway!
Here's a description of the CD from Merge PR:
"GRAMMY-nominated and BEC Recordings’ artist Jeremy Camp will be releasing a Christmas project this holiday season titled Christmas: God With Us. This is Camp’s first full-length Christmas project in his 10-year career, and it will be available on September 25. The album is produced by Brown Bannister and Ben Shive along with Camp. Camp’s Christmas album is filled with holiday classics as well as the original title track 'God With Us.' Fans will hear favorites such as 'Jingle Bell Rock,' 'Joy To The World,' and 'Mary Did You Know.' Although these are traditional songs, Jeremy takes a fresh approach to the arrangements on his album."
While not a huge fan of popular contemporary Christian music, I do love Christmas music! And Jeremy Camp is now a familiar name to me after reading I Still Believe, an autobiography (of sorts) published in 2011. [You can read my review of the book HERE.] Having been touched by his life story and having been offered the chance to review his new Christmas CD with the pretty front cover image (and the fun back cover!), I decided to give Christmas: God With Us a try.
"Jingle Bell Rock" ~ I do so enjoy this catchy song! It's really upbeat and just plain fun. Camp's voice works well with this song, but his version is a little intense and rough for my taste, instrumentally speaking. The introduction is abrupt - so beware if you have the music turned way up when you pop in the CD! And the ending, while brought about in such a way as to add flair, is also a bit abrupt and sort of out of sync with the rest of the song.
"Hark! The Herald Angels Sing" ~ This is a loud and rockin' version of the carol. I think it flows better than the first track on the CD, and it works as a rollicking, updated take on the song.
"Joy to the World" ~ I really like the background music in this one, and overall it's a sweet compilation. The one thing I didn't care much for, though, was the free-styling in the middle of the song. It seemed to get too far away from the main song for too long.
"O Little Town of Bethlehem" ~ A gentle song, as well as the longest on the CD. Traditional, with a little bit of speeding-up off and on to make it fit Camp's style. The conclusion is rather drawn-out, but nice.
"Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" ~ If you prefer the traditional approach to Christmas songs, this one does it well! No rockin' and rollin' here - this one is slow and smooth and sweet.
"Let it Snow" ~ Short and fun! I really like the tune.
"Mary Did You Know" ~ This one goes back to more of a "rock" style, with more emotion and intensity. I like the introduction to the song a lot.
"God With Us" ~ The one new and original song on the CD, as well as the title track. It's kind of "simple," and the words themselves aren't very original when it comes to modern Christian worship music. Yet the words flow well, and I love that this title is also the title of the whole CD, emphasizing the true joy and the amazing miracle of Christmas - that God would choose to be with us.
"O Come, O Come Emmanuel" ~ Epic. This song is a great follow-up to the previous track, as it reasserts the message of the previous song while moving from the sweet to the more powerful. It's a song about a promise that we already know has been fulfilled and will be fulfilled. And I love the violin solo at the end!
"Away in a Manger" ~ A calm ending to the whole CD that also subtly reasserts the overall message.
Concluding Thoughts: For fans of Jeremy Camp and Christian rock music in general, there's a lot to love about this CD! It weaves a "rock 'n roll" flair throughout most of the songs, while generally still keeping the core "feel" of the traditional Christmas music, even if not all of the songs really stand out or come together smoothly. There's not a lot of "new" here, but there's still a certain charm to most of the songs, and Camp has a great voice. I like how the CD displays fun and faith together!
*With thanks to Blair Loggins and Merge PR for providing me with a copy of the CD in exchange for my honest opinion.*
You can buy the CD now on Amazon.com!
Merge PR is offering a copy of this CD to one of my readers! If this seems like the sort of music you or a friend would enjoy (a great Christmas gift idea, perhaps??), just leave a comment below with your name and e-mail address. Let me know your favorite Christmas song, or your favorite Christian band, or whatever you feel like sharing!
Please note that you must have a U.S. or Canada mailing address in order to enter this drawing. The winner will be randomly chosen, announced on November 14th, and will have two days to respond before I choose another winner (as I must give the address to Merge PR by the 19th).