|LABEL: Reunion Records|
SPECIAL EFFECT(S): NewSong offers their very first Christmas project with string-enhanced holiday fare for just about everyone--including the seasonal tear-jerking title track.
PRODUCER(S): Bill Baumgart, Don Koch, Michael O’Brien and George King
“The Christmas Shoes” is the kind of song that benchmarks a music career, the kind a songwriter is known for when he’s no longer around. So it’s no surprise that we’ve not heard the last of of it since it became a No. 1 mainstream hit last year. And although “The Christmas Shoes” is the title cut for NewSong’s first venture into Christmas music, the project as a whole is better than fruitcake fare for the holiday season.
The new originals (”Sing Noel”, a re-working 1990’s “Light Your World”, “As the World Slept”, “Christmas Carol”) are quite good--certainly better than a lot of what I’ve heard from the new holiday set this year. Especially fun is the group’s unique approach to “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch.” Anytime a grown man is willing to sing this song, he deserves all the praise he can get for checking his dignity at the door. But after all, isn’t that an important part of surviving the holiday season anyway?
All of the original songs here (”Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree”, “Away in a Manger”, “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen”, “The First Noel”, “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”, “O Holy Night”) leave the project a little tradition heavy. But even so, the string and vocal arrangements add the zip and zing that any good Christmas album needs to make the family gathering playlist.
The Christmas Shoes is another one of those all-purpose Christmas albums with heartwarming tears o’ plenty and loads of good cheer beside. Great production, solid arrangements, and the vocal power (thanks in particular to Michael O’Brien and Billy Goodwin) are all here...wrapped up in a big red and silver bow. Shoes included.