Every year the Christmas releases roll in and the inevitable question is asked: “Can anyone find a new take on holiday music?” The answer is: yes and no. It’s rare to find mind-blowing seasonal stuff, especially in the Christian genre where the Christmas story is at the root of the music artists make year round. But in this case, the proverb that suggests familiarity breeds contempt just doesn’t fit. Instead, that intimate connection to the Christmas celebration lends itself to more personal renditions of old favorites and deeper new songs about the age-old story.
These artists are so in awe of God’s act of love that they want to share the good news of Christmas, but since the story never changes -- only the way it is communicated can -- they continue to retell it in the way that means the most to them. Josh Wilson and August Burns Red couldn’t have more different-sounding takes on the holiday story, but both are valid and beautiful in their own way. Steven Curtis Chapman’s approach to Christmas has been colored by family tragedy, but he proves that even the hurting can find joy. Jeremy Camp, Mandisa, Francesca Battistelli and Lincoln Brewster all attempt to make the holiday their own, too, hoping listeners find something unique in their approach.
It’s tricky business to make a Christmas record, to tread on such well-traveled ground, but we will always need talented artists to remind us again of all we have to celebrate, and invite us to sing along.