> cMusicWeb.com > Christmas > Love, Peace and Joy

Looking for something new? Our latest news and articles are at inReview.net

[ love, peace and joy ]


advertise here





Love, Peace and Joy - Click to view! Before the Cadence Label drowned in chapter 11 papers, they were the home of artists such as Chris Rodriguez, Erin O'Donnell, Shaded Red, and Viva Voce. All of these musicians, including Joel Hanson from the PFR days, composed and/or covered Christmas songs for the project Love, Peace and Joy.

I have to admit, I did not buy this CD in 1997. In Y2K a friend snatched a copy for me, simply for the coveted Shaded Red melodies (a band that has since departed from the Christian music scene). Excluding Viva Voce and the familiar soothing vocals of Joel Hanson, I find the rest of the CD a project that shouldn't surface this season.

The album begins with a chorus of "Joy Joy" sung in bothersome repetition. I welcomed Rodriguez's vocals, but the BGVs still haunted my short-term memory several minutes into the song. O'Donnell's tune "I Need Christmas" tells of a traditional American Christmas season: "So much noise / Shopping malls and traffic jams / Can't sit quietly / Can't even sit still / So much stuff / Wrapped in paper and in bows / Still I can't get what I want on Christmas day / I need Christmas time this year / To help me find what disappeared / Why did God come low and near / To me on Christmas day?" It's an insightful set of lyrics, hitting home to my own hectic holiday schedule. But it's trapped within pop music and fast beats that distract listeners from the words. Instead of encouraging rest and reflection, it becomes a chaotic soundtrack, demanding that we drive faster to Wal-Mart.

In fact, with so many angels embedded on the CD jacket, most of them bowed in prayer, one would expect an album of serenity. Yet this project is really a potpourri blend of musical talent stirred with clichéd arrangements.

So why listen to the CD? To hear Shaded Red and Viva Voce, of course. Viva Voce covers "Jolly Old Saint Nicholas," "What Child is This?" and "God Rest Ye Merry Gentleman" (my favorite of the trio) with its own flair of guitars and keyboard electronics. Placed against Anita Robinson's soft vocals, the pair of voice and instrument takes the listener out of the traditional Christmas music flare and into the realm of experiment and originality. I wish this band had written their own Christmas song; I wanted to experience an even greater amount of their creativity.

Shaded Red, however, does offer listeners an original song along with a holiday classic. Brothers Jamie and Jon Roberts cover "Silent Night" and share their own tradition in the song "Angels." "Silent Night" is draped in an upbeat piano score and Jon Roberts's raspy vocals, establishing a blues-like, playful feel. The band succeeds in taking a classic and reworking it into a new arrangement without destroying the original concept.

"Angels" stands as my favorite, winning the heart with piano that becomes infiltrated with guitar feedback. Roberts's vocals crescendo into a wave of passion: "God held incarnate / Offspring of Mary / Praises we sing to Thee / All glory and honor to our Messiah / Salvation He brings to all in need / O Come let us adore Him / Trust the Lord." The poet in me smiles at the change of "Christ the Lord" to "Trust the Lord." In taking the familiar and changing it ever so slightly, the listener finds himself drawn into a new area of understanding.

Overall, I wanted to enter even more areas of new understanding. Besides the songs mentioned, I left my CD player feeling unmoved and unsatisfied. But five out of eleven isn't too bad. If you find Love, Peace and Joy on eBay for three dollars or so, I'd suggest picking it up. But only for three dollars.
- Hollie Stewart
November 2003
Articles written by the staff.
Maintained by WebMaster Dan Ficker.
Site Design by da Man
All Material © 1999-2005 Different Media LLC
Support cMusicWeb.com