Jason Gray - Christmas Stories: Repeat The Sounding Joy
STYLE: Pop RATING OUR PRODUCT CODE: 130457-19567 LABEL: Centricity 0829619118421 FORMAT: CD Album ITEMS: 1 RELEASE DATE: 2012-11-26 RRP: £8.99
Reviewed by James Yelland
Joy is in the title and joy is the watchword running throughout this uplifting seasonal album from Minnesota's popular singer and songwriter. Starting and ending with the exuberances of "Christmas Is Coming" and "Joy To The World", this album invites us to see the Christmas story in a fresh way, taking off our weariness and cynicism and reconnecting with both the wonder and the very real emotions the Nativity characters may have gone through. The story is followed through using a smattering of updated traditional hymns mixed with songs written from the perspectives of the characters; shepherds ("Gloria"), wise men ("Easier"), Mary and Joseph, even the baby Jesus himself ("I Will Find A Way"). Each of these perspectives is expressed in a realistic way, such as the Innkeeper's plea for rest while the hope of the world cries just yards away in his stable! As well as these original songs, other highlights include a fine rendering of "O Holy Night" and a highly contemporised "Ave Maria", which has an impressive Rufus Wainwright vibe. Jason highlights that Christmas is often thought of as "for children" but that there is real wisdom in this opinion - namely that children show us all the joyful spirit with which we need to receive Christmas. To drive this point home, there's even one track, "Christmas For Jesus", sung by his son Gus, which might be a little stretched but is nonetheless a real heart-warmer!
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Working with producer Cason Cooley (Andrew Peterson, Katie Herzig, Matthew Perryman Jones) and co-writing with friends like Randall Goodgame, Andy Gullahorn, Nichole Nordeman, and Joel Hanson, Jason Gray was able to weave the textures of acoustic pop with the sentimental feel of Christmas to put together a collection of songs about the incarnation that we hope will surprise, delight and give people a sense that once upon a time and a place, among men and women just like us, a baby was born who changed everything. It's the greatest story ever told, and it's a story that we are all a part of, caught up in, and inexorably shaped by.
Gray is coming off his fastest selling record to date. He has become a staple on Christian radio where he is on his fourth straight top 20 single.