|Plenty to love with Wilson's Noel | Posted October 14, 2012
I remember hearing soft-spoken Josh Wilson for the first time as a fresh-faced male vocalist opening up for Matthew West on his Something To Say Tour back in late 2008. From the first moment he began singing, I knew this was a special guy with a bright future in from of him in the industry.
Ever since then, he's had a handful of smash radio singles, including "Savior, Please," "Before The Morning" and "I Refuse," as well as released several successful albums and EPs, securely establishing his place as a singer/songwriter in Christian music.
Now, 2012 brings us Josh's latest effort, a Christmas album titled Noel, a project which follows on the heels of his successful 2008 Christmas EP, which birthed the hit song, "Sing."
A stunning instrumental version of "The First Noel" sets the tone for the album nicely, Josh's famous musicianship--particularly on the acoustic guitar--being absolutely phenomenal. The lyrically powerful "Jesus Is Alive" almost sounds like a tune JJ Heller would pen, and transitions well into the holiday classic, "Go Tell It On The Mountain."
Josh's arrangement of "Do You Hear What I Hear" is adjoined by a well-placed section of strings, while the slightly country kissed original "Christmas Changes Everything" talks about how the world changed the night Jesus was born: "Oh holy night, holy Child / we were dead till You came to life."
"Almost Christmas" provokes the anticipation we feel as Christmas draws closer, it being the most traditional sounding Christmas tune on the record.
"Emmanuel" is Josh's take on the classic "O Come, O Come Emmanuel." His guitar work on the opening section deserving a round of applause on its own. The song builds as it progresses, and while it never explodes into anything grand, it serves as the best song on the project.
A breathtakingly folksy instrumental rendition of "Carol Of The Bells" brings to mind a version of the same sort Steven Curtis Chapman recorded nearly two decades ago, it being a brilliant and simple version of a beloved holiday favorite. "Angels We Have Heard On High" is the most contemporary song on the record, it being a well executed rendition of a classic carol.
The convicting tune "Once A Year" brings the album to a close, talking about how we are capable of feeling that same sense of giving all throughout the year, and not just at Christmastime. It's a heavy way to close an album that is, for the most part, lighthearted. But it sends a great and much needed message: "Once a year December's here and our hearts open up / once a year we give with cheer to those who don't have enough / wouldn't it be something if we all learned to love like it's Christmas more than once a year?"
Josh Wilson's first full length Christmas album, Noel, is exactly what I thought it would be--simple, airy and chock-full of cozy, holiday warmth. It's been well worth the wait and is sure to please fans and Christmas music lovers alike. This is a very simplistic Christmas project with very few bells and whistles. While that might not be everyone's cup of tea, it does serve as the perfect album for intimate moments of praise by the fire this holiday season.
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