STYLE: Pop RATING OUR PRODUCT CODE: 173467-27671 LABEL: Essential 083061109127 FORMAT: CD Album ITEMS: 1 RELEASE DATE: 2018-10-26 RRP: £12.99
Reviewed by Lins Honeyman
Multi award-winning Canadian singer/songwriter Matt Maher has become renowned for turning out albums that are exquisitely executed and deeply considered and his latest release is no exception despite it being a festive one. Taking the mystery of God becoming human as its general theme, Maher's Catholic roots are reflected in a new version of the Basque carol "Gabriel's Message" to set the scene for an album that meditates on Christ's birth with depth and sincerity. The paradoxically humble and majestic circumstances surrounding Jesus' birth are covered in the likes of "He Shall Reign Forevermore" and "Born On That Day" before a Bublé-styled romp through "Jingle Bells" showcases Maher's fun side and provides a momentary off-theme diversion. Elsewhere, old chestnuts like "O Come Emmanuel", "The First Noel" and "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing" are deconstructed, augmented and reassembled to avoid the done-to-death trap that many Christmas albums fall into and, as expected, Maher's seemingly effortless vocals lift each song to a different level with stirring numbers like "Glory (Let There Be Peace)" and "Hope For Everyone" igniting the sense of expectation and hope that would have been present around the time of the first advent. Amy Grant pops up on "Always Carry You" to add further class to proceedings before Maher ends this accomplished release with some well-deserved seasonal schmaltz in "Merry Little Christmas" and "When I Think Of Christmas".
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