Review: Lincoln Brewster – Joy to the World: A Christmas Collection

Lincoln BrewsterI’ve been listening to a lot of Christmas music this week, partly because local L.A. radio station KOST 103.5-FM has already begun their nonstop Christmas music marathon. Each year it seems we start listening to Christmas music earlier and earlier. I, personally have no problem with that. But with more days to listen to music, that means more artists will have to release Christmas albums to keep the classic tunes refreshed and alive.

Lincoln Brewster brings new meaning to many of these classics on his 2012 holiday album Joy To The World. I didn’t know much about Brewster going into this album, but this set was a great introduction. I learned he’s not only a singer, but a very capable guitarist. He opens his album with “Joy To The World,” which was pretty standard as far as rock versions of the song go, but his racing electric guitar solo that was then rivaled by an orchestra of violins caught my ear, and made me want to listen again.

Next up is a high-energy rendition of “Little Drummer Boy” featuring KJ-52 that doesn’t disappoint. Brewster may be one of the first artists to give the little drummer boy some edge. Nothing really exciting happens with the vocals on this song, allowing for his guitar grooves to take center stage. You might be a little surprised when he breaks into a rap midway into the song.

One of the only original songs on the album, “Shout For Joy” was co-written by Brewster with Jason Ingram and Paul Baloche. It’s a song you can easily clap along to, which always works well for church services, and will literally make you shout (and jump) for joy.

I had read that Brewster is a classically influenced guitarist, so I was hoping to find some more focused playing on this album, and I did. “Oh Holy Night (Another Hallelujah)” begins with melodic chords before the lyrics start. Brewster plays this song pretty true to the original, but delivers it in spectacular form. The chorus is big and booming, and very praise-worthy. And if you listen closely, Brewster interjects some fancy guitar noodling behind the chorus.

The album closes with another guitar-driven take on “Silent Night.” Brewster may also draw on influences such as metal, but there’s no harshness on this album. His performance of “Silent Night” is as soft as a lullaby and is accompanied by some bluesy guitar work, especially near the end when he takes a break for a solo so heavy it can’t help but penetrate through your soul. I wouldn’t be upset if Brewster’s next Christmas album was purely instrumental.

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