I’ve been waiting to review this album for a while, and now, the Pilgrims are gone and Santa’s on his way!
Christmas albums are really challenging to create. On the one hand, as an artist, you want to do something original and create something new. And yet, on the other hand, Christmastime is one of the few times during the year when it seems that everyone prefers the old and nostalgic over the new and creative. It’s a tricky tinsel tightrope to walk, and I would scarcely know how to handle it myself.
However, noted songwriter and worship leader Matt Redman is apparently much braver than I. As he has entered the Christmas music fray with a brand new album. These Christmas Lights is Matt’s first Christmas album, and I think it does a good job of walking that tightrope.
These Christmas Lights
First of all, I don’t know what it is that a producer adds to these albums to give them that Christmas feeling—sonic cinnamon, maybe?—but These Christmas Lights has it, which was a bit disorienting since I’ve been listening since October. Secondly, I’m a bit of a Christmas music snob. I’m not too good for new stuff, but I have a very specific tastes for what I like based solely upon the criteria of how or what does this music make me feel.
But before I explain that, here’s a list of my favorite tracks.
- “O Little Town (The Glory of Christmas)”
- “Hearts Waiting (Joy to the World)”
- “How Far”
- “Glory Hallelujah”
- “The Name of Emmanuel”
Now, let me explain what this album makes me feel using these five tracks as an example.
The first two of these tracks are what I described above: classic songs with some re-imagining and creative expression layered over them. The other three are certainly Christmas songs, but they escape the Christmas carol paradox, by which I mean that so many carols invite us to be spectators at the birth of Christ, and not necessarily worshipers of Him. It’s into this area that Redman’s ample gifts in leading worship come to the forefront. Christmas is a time for family, fun, nostalgia, etc., but if we cannot be directed to worship Jesus at this time of the year, what is left for us? These Christmas Lights makes me feel the uniquely Christmasy dichotomy of warmth and cold, dark and light, bleakness and the dawn of hope. It drew my mind to the long emptied manager but then also to the divinely occupied throne of heaven.
When you’re looking for a Christmas album this year, look for one that can not only give you that “feeling” of Christmas but also lift your heart in worship to the One for whom we celebrate this time of the year. That’s exactly what These Christmas Lights can do for you. With gentle music and profound lyrics, you’ll be able to enjoy the holiday and the holy presence of God without changing albums.
– 5.0 Stars
You can find These Christmas Lights in iTunes or Google Play.
A copy of this album was provided to me by the record company in exchange for an honest review.