Release Date: October 28th 2014
Reviewed by Joshua Andre
- Come Now Our King
- Jesus Savior
- I’ll Be Home For Christmas
- O Holy Night
- Tell Me What You Want For Christmas
Another week, another Christmas album. With this site reviewing albums this year from 1 Girl Nation, Michael W Smith, Joshua Mills, and Salvador, you might think that I’m pretty ‘sick and tired’ of listening to holiday themed music. Not so. Even though I don’t really understand why Christmas music is played in stores and released to the public a few months early; I still appreciate the Christmas songs for what they are, regardless of when they are played during the year. It is in this light, that I approach the latest Christmas release I’ve been listening to. Chris August’s The Christmas EP, is a stellar EP full of fun and poignant lyrics. When you have 3 out of the 5 tracks being original melodies, then you know you’re on a winner. Chris August does not disappoint. The Dove Award winner and Word Label Group artist Chris August has had a whirlwind ride of late, with his 2010 hit “Starry Night” brought many accolades, as well as the follow-up single “Center Of It”. With Chris also winning New Artist and Male Vocalist of the year at the GMA Dove Awards in April 2011; the eclectic artist has given us heartfelt anthems about Jesus’ birth, for us to remember the reason for the season, and he also litters these songs with his trademark soul, gospel, R&B, and pop mixed in together. Chris’s passion for Jesus and inspiring lyrics have made the 5 song EP (which in my opinion is still short!), an enjoyable listen- Chris August for Male Vocalist next year (at least as a nomination!) is certainly a no brainer!
With two of the five songs being traditional carols, you could probably have a field day choosing the top two that could and should be included. What Chris has done, is include a serious worship carol, and a fun, silly, mainstream carol, as representations for his serious material (his two studio albums) and his more laid back melodies (his tongue in cheek songs “Candy Wrap” and “The Discount Song”). “I’ll Be Home For Christmas”, led by powerful guitars and emphatic keys, has Chris eloquently singing an upbeat pop song, as this song sounds like it could be featured in a mainstream Christmas movie. In fact, the pop nature of the track, which Chris excels at greatly here, enhances this song greatly. There a myriad of instruments here, and it sounds as if Chris is having a lot of fun here, as he includes a new bridge written by him. Well done Chris for including a fun song that I can dance to!
“O Holy Night” is a piano only contemplative ballad, and is my most favourite Christmas song ever. It’s pretty bold for Chris to cover a majestic anthem like this, with covers from Lincoln Brewster, Kerrie Roberts, Kari Jobe, Mandisa, MercyMe, Newsboys, Third Day and David Crowder all standing tall amongst all other renditions, as well as Group 1 Crew for their alternate rendition. However, instead of being lost in the other versions, Chris nails this particular rendition, and is vocally spot on, as he fervently gives praise to God for the night when Jesus was born. In fact, this version of “O Holy Night” is one of the best renditions of the carol that I have heard in a while. Arguably the most well-known traditional Christmas carols, there’s something just magical listening to Chris passionately crying out the lyrics with fervor and passion, especially the haunting and chilling words of the chorus ‘…fall on your knees, oh hear the angel voices, o night divine, o night when Christ was born…’, bringing chills down my spine- a truth that never gets old!
“Jesus Savior” is an upbeat synth and keys led pop tune, a story-song, and a vivid description of Mary and Joseph travelling to Bethlehem, and the emotions and feelings that they would have been experiencing. As Chris ardently reminds us that God is ‘…is Jesus, Savior, Son of God, the King of Kings, our salvation has a name…precious Lord of Everything, our whole world’s about to change…’, we can come to the realisation that our God will always be with us and will never let us go, a fact that we can be comforted by as we bask in the knowledge that Jesus is all that we need. “Come Now Our King” is a more direct and vertical worship anthem, led by glockenspiel, keys and poignant strings, as Chris focuses on the praises of the angels, declaring glory in the highest, that they have been waiting for Jesus to come for a long time.
But it is the final song that cracks me up laughing, as Chris sings about his ‘side job’ of dressing up as Santa and letting little kids sit on his lap, asking what they want for Christmas. Full of humour, “Tell Me What You Want For Christmas” is satirical, and Chris is definitely taking a page out of Adam Agee and Stellar Kart’s book, as this song reminds me of how the pop/punk band sing “Hollywood Reality”. With this song being super catchy, it’s bound to be in my head for days. Even though it has nothing to do with Jesus, the is some tongue in cheek lyrics about Santa, which is sure to make children think about what they’re believing. A great way to end an EP that is oh too short; Chris August’s The Christmas EP is thoroughly enjoyable and deserves to be played many, many times before December 25th!
One of today’s most enjoyable artists to listen to, Chris August has recorded an explosive, heartfelt and poignant Christmas EP that quite frankly, is too short, and should have been recorded as a full length album. Maybe that’s coming in 2015? Regardless, you will not go wrong with listening to, or even buying these tracks. Chris has such a heart for Jesus, and it shows in his Christ centred lyrics, and the last track about Santa highlights Chris’s humourous nature. A must buy this holiday season, what are you waiting for?
3 songs to listen to: Come Now Our King, I’ll Be Home For Christmas, Tell Me What You Want For Christmas
RIYL: Ryan Stevenson, Unspoken, newworldson, TobyMac, Jimmy Needham