Review: Jody McBrayer – Christmastime

jodymcbrayerSome folks can just sing anything and Jody McBrayer is one of those guys. Having come to fame as a founding member of longtime CCM pop favorite Avalon and now a member of southern gospel flavored Cana’s Voice, McBrayer has shown that he’s got the range to do it all. Now, with Christmastime, the smooth voiced tenor puts his voice to work over a set of classic jazz-flavored arrangements that are not only timeless but prove to be the perfect template for McBrayer’s vocal artistry.

Produced by Wayne Haun (Ernie Haase & Signature Sound, Jason Crabb), the record builds from a sparse musical palette that really lets McBrayer’s vocals stand from and center where they belong. Ripples of smooth, sultry piano provide emotive color while brushed drums and sweet plucks of guitar and bass provide another layer of sound and setting the foundation for these eleven great tracks.

Given that overall concept, the album interestingly kicks off with the most radio ready of the tracks, the inspirational pop-flavored “Imagine This Christmas,” which showcases a lyric of hope alongside a smooth groove that lets McBrayer showcase his range. From there, the artist does a complete 180, rendering the piano and string-driven “Candlelight Carol” with beautiful simplicity, his tone crystal clear as he sings the beautiful lyric. A bit of a shuffling drumbeat and bright piano lends traditional favorite “O Come All Ye Faithful” an upbeat energy while the artist’s daughter joins him for a heartwarming rendition of “Count Your Blessings Instead of Sheep (with Silent Night).”

“What Child Is This?” has a minor chord feel to it, the piano and drum accompaniment contrasting with McBrayer’s soulful voice perfectly, a theme that follows through on another of the record’s chief highlights as he takes on “Ave Maria/O Holy Night.” Here, McBrayer shows restraint, letting the time-honored lyrics and melody speak and it’s simply beautiful while his inclusion of the 16th century French carol, “Bring a Torch, Jeanette, Isabella” gets some added life from the jazzy addition of Vince Guaraldi’s “Thanksgiving Theme.”

George Michael’s love it or hate it contemporary favorite “Last Christmas” gets stripped down and revamped as a jazz standard and is playful and smooth, showcasing some amazing piano work, as McBrayer’s follows that up with a faithful treatment of another Guaraldi favorite, “Christmas Time is Here.” Acappella troupe Voctave joins the artist for a stirring rendition of “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” the voices melding and blending magically, while things come to a close with the gently rendered benediction of “God Bless Us Everyone.”

On Christmastime, Jody McBrayer continues to show what a dynamic talent he is. Whether he’s belting out high energy pop jams, harmonizing with southern gospel melodies, or crooning out jazz-tinged standards, the artist is always on point. And with Christmastime, the artist’s talent takes listeners on a journey right into the holidays, leaving them feeling warm, toasty, and satisfied.


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