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The Music of Christmas - Click to view! None can deny the power of Steven Curtis's heartfelt, intelligent songwriting and his 100% guitarist drive, from the early days of "Faithful Too" to his semi-alternative pace on his current Signs Of Life (not to mention his soundtrack stuff, new singles on Greatest Hits and the new album). So how does he do on The Music of Christmas? Incredible. This is my fourth season with this disc and it just never escapes my player. Never content to be wrapped up in a box, Steven opted to mix in his six originals and musically rejuvenated versions (by which I mean completely different melody and chorus) of "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel," "Angels We Have Heard On High," (an upbeat remix with an electric solo) and "O Come All Ye Faithful." So how does that work, you wonder--changing classic carols to fit your pop sound? If it was anyone else, they'd ruin the holiday experience by changing melodies, but SCC is in full form here and you've got the tune and are singing with him by the second chorus. The opening "Hark!/The Music of Christmas" medley is a real highlight of the disc, crescendoing up and up with the London Session Orchestra and American Boychoir providing that warm holiday touch, as they do throughout this rare jewel of a holiday album. The kings of Christian pop, Steven and Michael W. Smith, join forces on "Our God is With Us," a driving keyboard/guitar power pop track that really grows on you. Despite hearing it fifty times, "This Baby" has never grown old, a track on Jesus' sacrifice to save us all through His birth in a stable. Instrumentally, Steven Curtis Clapton (or is that Chapman?) shines like the sun on the driving acoustic medley "Interlude" and the equally impressive "Carol Of the Bells." His commitment to help the needy is apparent on the poignant original "Christmas is All In the Heart," with the verse "In a one bedroom apartment, on the humble side of town / There stands a little Christmas tree--looks a lot like Charlie Brown's..." You can't go wrong with The Music of Christmas.
- Josh M. Shepherd
December 1999
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