Release Date: October 7th 2014
Reviewed by: Jonathan Andre
1 Girl Nation– A Very 1 Girl Nation Christmas (Amazon mp3/iTunes)
- Angels We Have Heard on High
- Go Tell It On The Mountain
- A Very A Cappella Christmas Mashup
- Let It Go
Since their formation in 2013, 1 Girl Nation have had a jam-packed year. From headlining the Secret Keeper Girl Tour in September 2013, to releasing their first music video of “While We’re Young”, as well as the quintet reducing to a quartet with the departure of Kelsey Sowards, and the group being honoured as a New Artist of the Year nominee at the 2014 Dove Awards; this new Provident Label Group band is perhaps one of my favourite all-girl groups since rockers BarlowGirl and power-pop trio ZoeGirl.
Reminding us (in terms of singing style and music genre) of these two bands aforementioned, as well as male counterparts Anthem Lights, Royal Tailor, and co-ed vocal group Jump5; Kayli, Lauren-Taylor, Lindsey and Carmen are back with a Christmas EP (complete with a rendition of the famous song from Frozen, “Let It Go”!). While it can seem a little early to be in the Christmas spirit- after all, it’s only October and Christmas is 2 and a half months away; we are blessed with these 5 melodies, as these girls remind us that it’s never too early to focus on what is truly one of the most special times of the year. And with one original, one cover, and 3 traditional Christmas songs, the band has given us songs that we can sing along to come Christmas time.
“Joy”, the EP opener, features bells, light percussion and all four girls singing harmoniously as we hear one of the most joyful songs- no pun intended- since Lincoln Brewster’s Christmas version of his powerful hit, “Shout for Joy”. As we hear the girls proclaim that the joy of God is much more fulfilling and energising than the joy we all will feel with the season- from the presents, Santa Claus and the hustle and bustle of December, it is when we realise these things cannot ‘…compare to the good news the angels tell, heaven has sent us a Saviour, what a night there is no greater joy…’, that we can truly enjoy the season without obligation or duty or anything else that comes with us feeling stressed, energised, excited or any other emotion come 25th December. One of the shortest original Christmas songs I’ve heard, 1 Girl Nation have given us a song to feel energetic about and celebrate with. One of my favourite originally written Christmas songs since Steven Curtis Chapman’s “Christmas Card”, well done 1GN for such a powerful song about the reason for the season!
“Angels We Have Heard on High” and “Go Tell It On the Mountain” are the carol representatives (in full) from 1GN, and while it can seem laborious to hear yet another rendition of a carol, these girls place their own spin and freshen up these songs, to hopefully encourage the younger generation to identify with Christmas, the season, the carols, and the hope, joy and heartfelt message that comes along with it. With a looping percussion introduction that reminds of the start of the radio version of Matthew West’s “Do Something”, the keyboard and drum effects enhance a song that’s one of my favourite carols overall (aside from “O Holy Night”, my all-time favourite carol). With Lindsey, Kayli and Lauren-Taylor each taking turns in the verses, and Carmen singing the chorus, each girl uses their own talents (Lauren with the beat-boxing in the background) to bring forth one of the most enjoyable renditions of this song ever!
An electronic keyboard anchors “Go Tell It on the Mountain” in a slower-style melody, and while I felt that the song could’ve been 15-20 seconds longer (and without a fade out ending), the song nevertheless delivers lyrically to remind us of how we ought to tell the world of Christ’s story, everywhere we are, and especially during this Christmas season. 1 Girl Nation also bring us a Christmas carol a cappella medley, and while the tempos of each song make it feel disjointed at times; these girls have brought with them passion and enthusiasm to deliver unique versions of “Jingle Bells”, “Joy to the World”, “O Come All Ye Faithful”, “What Child is This” and “O Holy Night”- all within 5 minutes. Hearing Lauren-Taylor rap out both the verse and chorus of “What Child is This”, and “Jingle Bells” quickened to an almost unrecognisable pace, as well as “O Holy Night” once again being a bright spot as Kayli shows us how high her vocals can go; were all interesting points in a medley whose only lacking feature would be music- which would’ve made the transitions between songs more seamless.
Winning the best song at the 2013 Oscar Academy Awards, “Let It Go” was and still is a song that I’m sure every person knows, no matter if they love Christian music, mainstream music, or both. While it could seem odd to see “Let It Go” on a Christmas EP, the song does have some cold icy overtones, considering that Frozen is about winter, ice, snowmen, and everything else that people experience during Christmastime in the Northern Hemisphere. While the song doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with the Christmas and New Testament story; the song does give us the theme of letting go- that as Christians, we need to let go of the things we often hold onto (bitterness, shame, hurt, regret, trying to be religious and ritualistic instead of being in relationship…and what better season to let these things go than during Christmas?).
With 1GN’s version of the melody sounding strikingly similar to Demi Lovato’s pop version, what the song does carry is an enthusiasm and energy that brings with it a level of encouragement- that it’s ok to show our real selves and not be ashamed or worried if God, our family or friends love us or accept us as we are- flaws and all. God meets us where we’re at, and us being real and honest leads us to love without inhibition. “Let It Go”, while not written to be ‘Christian’, is one of the most honest songs of 2013/14, as we all hopefully let go of preconceived ideas placed on us, unseen expectations to behave in a certain way, and ideas of what we thing the Christian life should be like.
One of my favourite new bands of 2013/14, 1 Girl Nation have continued to deliver powerful pop melodies. While short, this Christmas EP is enough for us to have a good snapshot into holiday melodies, Christ-centred Christmas songs and originally written melodies as we realise that Christmas means a lot of things for a lot of different people. Yet one things clear- this EP brings us heartfelt moments of encouragement and joy, which is exactly what Christmas should evoke when we imagine the season. While still October, we can’t have too many reminders of December 25th– and that Easter couldn’t happen without Christmas (and the converse is also true- if Easter didn’t happen, Christmas would be null and void). From “Joy”, one of my favourite Christmas songs recently, to the powerful rendition of Frozen’s “Let It Go”, 1 Girl Nation have done an excellent job at contributing to melodies that can be on iTunes playlist during the month of December, in 2014 and in forthcoming years ahead!
3 songs to listen to: Let It Go, Joy, Angels We Have Heard on High
RIYL: Jump5, Anthem Lights, ZoeGirl, Britt Nicole, Royal Tailor