Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Some of these artists have been in the music industry for over a decade; others have only just begun. Some deliver heart-pounding rock night after night while others simply prefer the soft tones of an acoustic guitar. But they all have one thing in common among others. Since these artists arrived on the music scene, they have risen to become some of the best and most successful artists in the Christian music industry today. And, now, they join forces to bring a fresh, new album that is sure to bring cheer to many during this holiday season!
Unexpected Gifts: 12 New Sounds of Christmas is a collection of old Christmas classics recorded by well-respected artists such as Rebecca St. James, Chris Tomlin, Bethany Dillon, Nichole Nordeman, and Steven Curtis Chapman. It combines the sound and feel of these classics that many have come to know and love while still adding a touch of creativity and originality.
The album begins with Rebecca St. James singing "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing" which is later followed with "It Came Upon A Midnight Clear" recorded by rock fivesome Kutless. They both add their own edgy rock sound (that they have become recognized for) while still allowing the traditional feel that many treasure in these carols to ring through.
On the other hand, there is Shawn McDonald’s rendition of "O Holy Night," Steven Curtis Chapman’s strings-infused arrangement of "O Little Town Of Bethlehem," and Nichole Nordeman’s guitar-driven version of "Do You Hear What I Hear?" for those who prefer a more acoustic approach to these Christmas tunes.
Two other tracks also worth mentioning are "God Rest Ye Merry Gentleman" excellently performed by Bethany Dillon and "Feliz Navidad" by the one and only David Crowder*Band. With Bethany Dillon and the David Crowder*Band experimenting and moving out of their normal musical style, these tracks can easily be seen as the most fun and enjoyable tracks on the album.
Overall, there are just too many great songs on this record to pick and choose favorites. Neither is it possible to limit this album to only one genre of music. Whether you are a rock fan, jazz enthusiast, or any other type of music lover, you will find that this is a well-rounded Christmas album for any music fan! Unexpected Gifts truly is a pleasant "unexpected gift"; however, it is nowhere short from anything you would expect of these gifted artists and bands. In fact, it is what any Christmas music lover would expect and much more!