When we first started hearing about this year's Christmas music releases, there were few on the horizon to dazzle our December spirits. But good Christian men rejoice! As glad tidings of more albums trickled in, we listened to them all (well, most of them), and found some genuine gifts among them all.
These rose to the top:
Phil Wickham | Natalie Cole & the MTC | Wilson Phillips | Mike Crawford and his Secret Siblings
33 Miles | The Isaacs | Point of Grace | Jason Crabb | Newsboys
Style: Melodic folk; compare to Randy Stonehill, Bob Dylan, Larry Norman
Top tracks: "Best Christmas Morn," "All Through the Night"
Keaggy—singer, songwriter, guitar phenom, and overall music legend—magically portrays Christmas with the vintage candor of his folksy voice, beautifully bright acoustic guitar, and a myriad of other acoustic instruments. Painting small-town scenes with artful lyrics and quaint melodies, Keaggy fashions the sights and sounds of Christmas into an intimate musical landscape that is childishly reminiscent ("Village Bells"), yet stark and stunning ("For the Twelfth Night").
Spencer CapierChristmas Instrumental (Independent)
Style: Heartland instrumental folk; compare to Chris Thile, Ron Block, Julie Lee
Top tracks: "Not One Sparrow Is Forgotten," "In the Bleak Midwinter"
Magnificently weaving his way through 12 tracks of seasonal liturgy, Capier, whose multi-instrumentalist skills have graced the music of folk-oriented musicians like Jennifer Knapp and Carolyn Arends, crafts a stirring work of art all his own here. Slowly picked mandolins, heartland fiddle lines, priceless pedal steel swoops, and gorgeous open guitars are all effective tools on Capier's masterful ...