My Rating: 4.8 / 5.0
Whether you’re someone who delves into Christmas music on Nov 1st or who waits until the Advent countdown has begun, Matthew West’s Unto Us: A Christmas Collection will make the perfect addition to your holiday playlist. West, award-winning singer/songwriter known for recent hits like “Hello, My Name Is” and “Grace Wins,” released his second holiday album last Friday. When talking about this new album, West shares, “As a songwriter, I tend to write a few new Christmas songs every year - it's a way for me to reconnect with the greatest story ever told… Christmas is my favorite time of year, hands down!” This passion for the Christmas spirit and the true story behind this holiday season are reflected in the 10-track album, featuring time honored classics along with new original songs. Comprised of varied styles and sounds, Unto Us focuses on celebration, reflection and the true meaning of Christmas.
West crafts a modern, fresh take on “The First Noel (Sing Noel).” The track includes the familiar tune of this Christmas favorite, while featuring a celestial-like synthesizer and contributing lyrical phrases that allow the listener to experience this song in a brand new way. One of West’s personal favorites on the new album, the song features those soft, gentle moments we traditionally associate with the tune, along with upbeat, celebratory transformations of the chorus.
Reflective and imagery-based, “A Christmas To Believe In” paints a picture of the sights and sounds often experienced during the holiday season. The lyrics themselves are enough to warm the heart no matter the temperature outside. Despite the busy schedule this season can bring, the song encourages us to enjoy the gift of small moments and new memories with loved ones as we bring our hearts and minds back into focus on the true reason behind Christmas. Similar in message, “The Heart Of Christmas” is an instant feel-good classic. Recorded in West’s signature style, this song reminds us to be in the moment this holiday season, focusing on Jesus, family, and love for others.
Trumpets squealing and pianos twinkling, “Jingle Bells” is perhaps the most uniquely and expertly styled song on the album. The instrumentation, layered with West’s ad-lib vocals, perfectly transforms this classic into a big band number: fun and jazzy with a tight groove and a Michael Bublé-like sound. Slowing in tempo but building in warmth, “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” features smooth strings, piano, and brushed percussion with vocals that instantly recall the feeling of a classic Christmas movie, a crackling fire and a twinkling tree.
With its varied yet perfectly balanced composition, Unto Us: A Christmas Collection includes a sound and message for every listener. No surprise, Matthew West’s vocals continue to impress, artfully telling the story of Christmas through a variety of lyrical and styled lenses. No matter what the holidays may hold in store for you this year, whether it’s uncertainty, joy, loss, or celebration, Unto Us welcomes us home and helps share the feelings of hope that only a newborn baby lying in a manger can inspire.