Mini-Review: Matthew West – The Heart of Christmas

Matthew West

The Heart Of Christmas

Label: Sparrow Records

Release Date: September 30th 2011 (Amazon mp3/iTunes)

Track Listing:

  1. Come On, Christmas
  2. Jingle Bells
  3. The Heart Of Christmas
  4. Leaving Heaven (feat. Vince Gill)
  5. Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas
  6. One Last Christmas
  7. Silent Night (Interlude)
  8. Give This Christmas Away (feat. Amy Grant)
  9. O Holy Night
  10. Christmas Makes Me Cry (feat. Mandisa)
  11. O Come, All Ye Faithful
  12. Day After Christmas

Initial thoughts: A fun-filled Christmas album with just the right amount of feel-good melodies reminding us of the necessity of Christ in Christmas and showing us how we need to give love away during a season in the calendar where many people may not have as much as we think they do. Holiday songs, Christmas carols, originally written songs by Matthew himself, what more can you ask for?

Reason to listen: Matthew’s first Christmas album released in 2011, and with collabs with Vince Gill (Leaving Heaven), Mandisa (Christmas Makes Me Cry) and Amy Grant (Give This Christmas Away), we are reminded that often it is the originally written songs for the season, that make us sit up and remember what it really means to celebrate Christmas like the rest of us.

Reason to buy: ‘The Heart of Christmas’ and ‘One Last Christmas’ alone, should give you all the feels, and the emotion, and you then ought to go out and purchase it, stat. This is an album you don’t want to be sleeping on. Matthew’s quite possibly one of the most relevant CCM people out there, maybe even on his way to become this generations Steven Curtis Chapman…need I say any more as to why you should purchase, yes purchase (not only stream) this gem of a Christmas record?

Reason to skip: None. Perhaps, the interlude of Silent Night is too short, but other than that, no bad points on the album whatsoever. ‘Give This Christmas Away’ is eerily timely especially in 2020. Mind you, if you don’t like the abundance of originally written songs for Christmas, then steer away from this emotionally charged album, one of Christian music’s most enduring and quite possibly, long lasting.

No. of carols: 5

No. of originals: 7

No of guest artists: 3 (Vince Gill on track #4, Amy Grant on track #8, Mandisa on track #10)

Does it have heart?: Just by listening to ‘The Heart of Christmas’ and the emotion on ‘One Last Christmas’, even the powerful moments of ‘O Holy Night’, you can tell that Matthew is meaning every single word. One of my own favourite CCM artists ever, I’m terribly biased, so what do I know? Check it out yourself, and see the heart delivered in each song, up to dial #11 everytime!

Does it have a Christmas-y atmosphere?: No, not really, but the original songs make up for it. With 2 holiday songs (Jingle Bells, Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas) and 2 carols (O Come All Ye Faithful, O Holy Night) and a 1 minute version of Silent Night, the bulk of the album is mainly Matthew’s songs. So for anyone checking out this album, thinking they’ll see songs like ‘Winter Wonderland’, ‘Happy Holidays’, ‘What Child is This’ or ‘Joy to the World’, be prepared to be startled…in a good way.

Uniqueness?: Very much so. This is basically Matthew’s Christmas album, and the songs here reflect his heart to deliver emotional songs, no matter the audience and the time of release. Who in the history of Christmas albums has ever written a song about a persona who could probably experience only one last Christmas, before a disease like leukemia takes them from this earth? Heartfelt and emotional, these songs are not for the faint hearted. You need to sit up and take notice when listening to this album, no time for wrapping presents to this music, leave that to Christmas music from Pentatonix!

Christmas message: In abundance. The Heart of Christmas, Give this Christmas Away and Christmas Makes Me Cry, all remind us of what the season of the year really means. But then again, there’s the Matthew West-written song ‘Come On Christmas’, about someone who is very obsessed with Christmas that they are preparing for it since July- so there’s tongue-in-cheek joyous tracks, mixed with poignant emotional ones- songs for every possible mood you can be in, during the month of December!

Closing thoughts: If you love Christmas, but want to hear songs written by the artist about the season, then Matthew’s The Heart of Christmas is your one-stop-shop for your Christmas needs. Unique in a sense that the album’s mostly original songs, we can still listen with a smile on our faces as these melodies bring us back from the hustle and bustle to remind us why we celebrate Christmas in the first place. Kudos Matthew for this vulnerable album, one that I still listen to during Christmas-time, nine years later!

3 songs to listen to: Give this Christmas Away, Come on Christmas, The Heart of Christmas

Overall rating: 5/5

Yes/no; why/why not?: Yes. Why? It’s Matthew West of course. It’s original songs. It’s a great collision between heartfelt melodies and upbeat ones too. Just for ‘Give this Christmas Away’ alone, you should purchase it. But who am I to know? Enough ‘talking’ from me and ‘pondering’ from you- just listen to it pronto. You won’t regret it! It just may be one of your most played Christmas albums come December time in a few months!

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