Review Rating : 4.2 / 5
As Christmas comes around once again, the snow is falling, the decorations are coming out of the garage, and many Christian artists are releasing music fit for the occasion. Texas-based praise and worship artist Christy Nockels is no exception, having just released a new album packed with fourteen Christmas tracks. Comprised of both originally written songs and reimagined classics, Christy's compelling vocals drive the album and propel the festive atmosphere of each track. The Thrill Of Hope is a fantastic album, whether in a standalone listening or as an addition to any Christmas playlist.
The opening track "The King Is Coming" has a heavy strings presence, with whispering chimes interlaced throughout its runtime. Serving as an intro piece, the song brings listeners into the next track "Advent Hymn." Here, the instrumentals shift to piano while the strings take a back seat. Christy's vocals propel the lyrics, which express an advent-based expectation of Christ and how he will "triumph over these shades of night."
Naturally, there are covers of original Christmas classics complemented by Christy's rich vocals. "O Come O Come Emmanuel" conveys the expectation of the Savior with a lighter, more hopeful tone than the original arrangement. "Silent Night" puts the focus on acoustic guitar and strings, a rarity among traditional Christmas carols. Christy's passionate yet calm voice brightens the track throughout the song's original and adapted lyrics. Closing the album, "Joy To The World" finishes strong but gently as Christy proclaims the Savior's birth, thus tying together the record's beginning and end.
"Our Christmas Song" paints a calm and relaxing, though certainly energetic, picture of the meaning behind the season. Utilizing drums, acoustic piano, gently placed electric guitar chords, and jingling bells, the song is slightly more upbeat but does not derail the calming nature of the album. In her lyrics, Christy describes the moments with family and friends in a picturesque snapshot of the Christmas season. In the chorus, she recognizes the reason why any of the season is possible. "You're the gift that keeps on giving time after time and year after year," Christy sings, describing how Christ's coming is the ultimate gift to humanity.
It is tricky for most artists to create a Christmas album that can capture the atmosphere of the season and express the true reason we celebrate, not to mention keeping the tracks familiarly engaging while adding a personal touch. Christy Nockels has pulled together all of the above, making a collection of classics and original songs perfect for the occasion. Though the instrumentals and arrangements are fresh and engaging, her powerful vocals make each song bright, joyful, and enjoyable to hear. The Thrill Of Hope is exactly as the title suggests - filled with excitement about the Savior and the hope He gave to the world when He came.