Release Date: October 21st 2014
Reviewed by Joshua Andre
- Felix Navidad
- Hark! The Herald Angels Sing (feat. Phil Keaggy)
- Happy Holidays (feat. Phil Keaggy)
- Sleigh Ride
- Noche De Paz (feat. Jaci Velasquez)
- Angels We Have Heard On High
- Go Tell It On The Mountain (feat. Stomptown Revival)
- Hope Was Born
- Joy To The World (feat. The Katinas)
- We Wish You A Merry Christmas
Releasing their comeback album Make Some Noise in 2013, Spanish flavoured pop/rock group Salvador have travelled back to their roots, and independently released their Christmas album Hope Was Born this year. Though I wasn’t that familiar with Salvador’s music all that much prior to 2012- just a few singles here and there, their new studio album completely blew me away, as I listened to the pop/jazz/funk/soul/latin flavoured tracks with a fresh perspective, making my amazement at the good quality of this album all the more telling. I have to say that Salvador’s Make Some Noise is a gem, and Hope Was Born doesn’t disappoint also, as it’s one of my favourite Christmas albums recorded recently. With CCM mixed with funk, soul, R&B and pop, there’s something for everyone on their varied album, plus plenty of guest vocalists and musicians, with the band singing familiar carols and original tunes as well. Releasing on the same day as Planetshakers, KJ-52, Laura Hackett Park and Martin Smith, Hope Was Born from these Spanish boys is sure to gain popularity from critics and listeners alike!
The album starts off with the bilingual track “Feliz Navidad”. With Salvador adding their own Spanish and jazz flair, through electric guitar, acoustic guitar, brass instruments and Nic Gonzales’ distinct and powerful vocals, the song is given immense depth, despite it not being a Christian themed song. With the atmosphere of the song generally being happy and bubbly, with renditions from Mandisa, Jaci Velasquez and David Crowder*Band recorded in previous years; this track gets into the holiday spirit right away, as we declare that ‘…we want to wish you a mercy Christmas form the bottom of our hearts…’. What a buoyant melody, one that brings me a smile, as I think about the Christmas season.
“Sleigh Ride”, driven by the acoustic guitar and shakers, is present here as well, and also isn’t a Christ centred song. However it’s a mainstream popular track meant to remind us about the joy and happy times spent with family during Christmas time. Overall, this rendition is very enjoyable to listen to, with the band bringing down the tempo considerably and giving it the acoustic treatment, in comparison to Relient K’s pop/punk/rock rendition from many years back. The final ‘holiday’ themed song is the album is the album closer “We Wish You A Merry Christmas”. With every member of the band singing on this iconic Christmas song, complete with saxophone and brass instruments, it’s a fun filled way to end a poignant and heartfelt album that is sure to lift people up and encourage. Sometimes what people long to hear during the holiday season, are people, whether they are strangers or loved ones, wishing them ‘Merry Christmas’, and this is exactly why Salvador included this song on the album, to ensure that people are blessed and know that they are loved.
The remainder of the songs praise Jesus and remind us the real reason for the season, with 5 traditional tracks and 2 original songs. “Joy To The World” has appeared on almost every Christmas album over the past few years, and all versions have been unique and awesome. Salvador continues with this trend, with an acoustic guitar driven soul/pop rendition and The Katinas featuring on vocals as well. A touch over 3 minutes, there are hand claps, brilliant vocal harmonies, and an atmosphere of sitting around the fire with family and friends, where we are reminded that ‘…He rules the Earth with truth and grace and makes the nations prove, the glories of His righteousness and wonders of His love…’. Jesus’ birth is a very celebratory time, and this vibrant tune is one of my favourites. While “Go Tell Is On the Mountain” is another enjoyable track included here, with the band opting for a full big jazz band, and Stomptown Revival joining them on the track, creating an Americana/gospel/country atmosphere (with the harmonica and more brass instruments!). With the welcome change up in instruments brilliantly complementing the vocals and the lyrics quite nicely; we are reminded of the fact that Jesus is born, and because that is good news, we ought to spread that news everywhere- I can’t help but dance along and praise Jesus!
“Angels We Have Heard On High”, again given a latin/Spanish treatment with horns and brass instruments, is quickened in pace, yet the message is still intact, a message that encourages us to dance for joy and praise Jesus as we sing ‘…Gloria, in excelsis deo…’, and has Nic crying out praises to God, and singing about the angels that declared glory and honour over Him that night. Musically the song is very unique- a fun, modern, Spanish flavoured, jazz infused, move-your-feet and dance-in-the-mosh-pit kind of track song, and the enthusiasm of Nic and co. is very infectious!
“Hark The Herald Angels Sing”, featuring Phil Keaggy on guitar, is one of my favourite carols, and I love that they included the song on this tracklist, as I am immersed in their catchy and captivating rendition, a track with plenty of acoustic and electric guitar solos. This version is as lively as any (although Lincoln Brewster’s version is still the most impacting to me!), and I can’t help but jump up and down as I listen to this ball of energy and inspiring material! Proclaiming that Jesus is Lord and that ‘…Christ is born in Bethlehem…’, this fan favourite carol is contemporised quite well. The final Christmas carol is “Noche De Paz”- “Silent Night” sung in Spanish. This acoustic guitar driven version is sung with Jaci Velasquez, and it’s very reflective and serene to listen to, and a joy to just bask in God’s love, even if I am not that well versed in Spanish.
The final two songs are the original tunes “Happy Holidays” and “Hope Was Born”. With “Happy Holidays” featuring Phil Keaggy once again on the guitar, we are met with a rousing celebratory anthem, with the band prophesising joy and peace and love over everyone who listens, and praying that this Christmas will be a fun filled experience, and time where we can enjoy each other’s company, and forget about our differences, and live together in harmony. If you read between the lines, you can tell that Salvador is indirectly praising Jesus (and overtly giving God the glory in the bridge), and I commend the guys for not hiding their faith, but showing the world for everyone to see. The quiet, calm and contemplative “Hope Was Born” is the last original track, and this is the heart and soul of the album. Led by soft keys and acoustic guitar, we are met with a moment of vulnerability and raw emotion, and Nic outlines that Christmas is meant to be a time of gratitude and thankfulness to God because of His birth. A song that outlines that Jesus was born that night and gives us hope, Salvador make sure to put the Christ back in Christmas, and that’s a stand that I’m willing to support and that I admire. Well done Salvador for a dynamic, fresh and eclectic album filled with old and new favourites that will be a great addition to our Christmas playlists this year!
Salvador have been a band for a long time, but I think that their 2013 studio album, and this Christmas album is a new beginning. With Hope Was Born having something for everyone musically, I am sure that these friends and brothers in Christ will be in the industry for a while yet. With the band performing every song at 110%, Nic and co. have done Spanish music proud. By infusing a variety of genres, it’s clear that as long as the band keep on making good quality music like this album, we’ll all have some international flavoured tracks to listen to and enjoy. The album has a definite air of positivity in it, and Salvador have created a holiday themed record sure to bring them acclaim. I definitely am eager and interested to hear their next efforts in the future!
3 songs to listen to: Sleigh Ride, Hope Was Born, Joy To The World
RIYL: Jimmy Needham, Chris August, newworldson, Unspoken