Capitol Records / UMG Recordings
Release Date: September 24th 2021
Reviewed by: Joshua Andre
- Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee
- O Come All Ye Faithful
- Let There Be Peace
- Little Drummer Boy (feat. Isaiah Fisher)
- Sweet Baby Jesus
- Hallelujah (feat. John Legend)
- O Holy Night
- Mary, Did You Know?
- Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas
- Away In A Manger
- Silent Night
- Favorite Time Of Year
- All Is Well
- Let There Be Peace / Something In The Water (Live from HBO Max’s My Gift: A Christmas Special from Carrie Underwood)
2020 (and 2021 as well!!) has really put a dampener on everyone’s spirits… quite literally. COVID-19, and in particular the variants of Delta and Omicron, has been relentless, and we don’t need to go into the harrowing details of what it is or isn’t- because I’m sure you all know what it is and how it has affected you personally and the world at large. How we get through this pandemic and soldier on, highlights the type of person we are, and here’s hoping that determination, tenacity and positivity are brought to the fore through this ordeal- no matter how destructive and unexpected it was. Now I don’t know any of your circumstances, so I won’t pretend to know what you are going through. But for me, it has been music, the power of inspirational and uplifting music, and the power of God through music- that has been an immense help at me seeing perspective in the midst of COVID-19, and has me still hoping and praying for a brighter future. Music from many genres (such as CCM, worship, pop, rock, country) have touched my soul and spirit- yet as we are smack bang in the middle of December, there’s no other music so inspiring and full of life and stirring than Christmas music.
Yep, Christmas music. the music that celebrates Jesus’ birth, the music that talks about the festive, family, holiday aspect of the holiday, or both. Music that is a guilty pleasure for us that we all mightn’t want to admit we listen to all year round- and music where songs like “O Holy Night” still brings a joy and a smile to our faces, no matter who is singing it. Yep, Christmas music is music that we all can listen to year in and year out- and I guess you could listen to an artist who you wouldn’t normally listen to- simply because of that fact that ‘It’s Christmas music’! And though this ‘review’ or blog of sorts could sound like me writing about the benefits of listening to Christmas music, and trying to convince the Scrooges of the world to be happier and more jovial, even in the face of adversity; let me instead point you to all of my Christmas reviews so far this year (albums from Pentatonix, Matthew West, Zach Williams, Chris Tomlin, Brett Eldredge and Kristin Chenoweth to name a few), and from previous years (albums from Nichole Nordeman, Andrew Peterson, Tori Kelly, for KING & COUNTRY, Maddie & Tae, Phil Wickham and Meghan Trainor to name a few). And thus, let me also peel back to layers on some Christmas albums that have been released throughout this year and previous years, that has hit my soul hard, and albums which I’m sure will resonate no matter what you are going through.
But I reckon there cannot ever be a more poignant, resonating, powerful and impacting Christmas album, than Carrie Underwood’s My Gift from last year. Now we all know about Carrie Underwood, who she is and what she’s all about. If you don’t know on the off chance, you can read my brother’s blog about her, or read my review of Cry Pretty from a few years ago or Jon’s review of her hymns album from this year…but seriously, who doesn’t know the ‘Queen of modern country’? After already releasing many albums and a slew of radio country hits (if you want more information and stats, check out Wikipedia or Jon’s blog!), My Gift was unveiled to the world last year- and boy is this Christmas album just what we all need right now. I reviewed the album last year, and at the time, it was unashamedly and unapologetically optimistic and positive in the face of despair and adversity. As Carrie delivered 11 soul-stirring and out-of-this-world vocal powerhouse moments that transcend human comprehension; and as she powerfully and poignantly sung out Jesus’ praises and celebrates His birth, we were treated to one of the most thought-provoking, explosive and heartfelt Christmas albums of the past few years. I can still confidently say that from many, many listens, My Gift stands tall amongst other holiday albums, and is a great album period to inspire and motivate you to keep going and keep pressing on in life.
But since I’ve already reviewed this album, you can read about it here, as I speak about my favourite songs such as “O Holy Night” (my favourite carol of all time!), “Hallelujah” (a stirring duet with John Legend) and the radio friendly original holiday tune “Let There Be Peace”. My Gift, even a year removed from its release, is still inspiring and moving. But just as artists like Delta Goodrem and Rend Collective have release deluxe editions of already-released albums, so too has Carrie… and these songs are so inspiring, that I just had to touch upon them very quick. This year, My Gift (Special Edition) released. With the three extra tracks being “Favorite Time Of Year” (an original), “All I Well” (a Michael W. Smith cover) and “Let There Be Peace / Something In The Water (Live from HBO Max’s My Gift: A Christmas Special from Carrie Underwood)” (a live medley), we are treated to hear some more Carrie Underwood holiday goodness- proving to us why Carrie is such a powerhouse vocalist and one of today’s most emotive and poignant vocalist today. “Favorite Time Of The Year”, originally an Amazon exclusive original, was made available to the wider public this year, and is a bright, sunny, fun, jovial and positive melody, whereby Carrie fervently relays to us why Christmas is her favourite time of the year, declaring that Christmas is like ‘…Love pouring out like the snow from the sky, snuggled up together sitting by the fire, oh, it’s magical, it’s my favorite time, pretty little wishes tied up in a bow, and every little kiss is like we’re underneath the mistletoe, it’s music to my ears, Christmas is my favorite time of year…’. “All Is Well”, one of Michael W. Smith’s most popular songs ever, is recorded beautifully and skillfully by Carrie, and reminds us the true reason for the season, that ‘….all is well, all is well, lift up your voices and sing, born is now Emmanuel, born is our Lord and Savior, sing Alleluia, sing Alleluia, all is well…’. The expanded edition of the already powerful and brilliant holiday albums ends with a medley of “Let There Be Peace” and the gospel infused melody “Something In The Water”.
Full disclaimer- Carrie Underwood’s album isn’t a country album. But it is festive, it does celebrate Jesus’ birth, it does contain many Holy-Spirit led moments, and it does contain a timelessness and iconic aspect to it that I’m sure you all will agree with me with. My Gift, as well as these extra three tracks, does sound very traditional though, and if you want to hear jazzier, rockier, poppier and more musically up-to-date carols, then sadly My Gift isn’t the Christmas album for you. However, if you prefer Christmas to be familiar like hugging an old friend that you haven’t seen for years… then My Gift is perfect. So, what are you waiting for? The world may be on a knife’s edge, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t celebrate Jesus or the holiday season! Well done Carrie, I can’t wait to hear what God has in store for you next! Now… let’s add “Let There Be Peace” to every Spotify playlist, shall we? Yep, to all the playlists across the year!
3 songs to listen to: Let There Be Peace, Hallelujah, All Is Well
RIYL: Taylor Swift, Rascal Flatts, Kelly Clarkson, Tori Kelly, Hunter Hayes, Jana Kramer, Point Of Grace, Thomas Rhett, Maddie & Tae