Review: Matthew West – Unto Us: A Christmas Collection

matthewwestOne of the beautiful things about the Christmas music tradition is that it’s not limited to any one genre. While there will always be the mainstays like Bing Crosby, Nat King Cole, and Elvis Presley, there is always room for more contemporary expressions as well, delivering yuletide cheer through the pop sounds of today. Stepping in to fill this role for listeners this year is CCM hit maker Matthew West who delivers five new Christmas tracks along five previously recorded on his second Christmas offering, Unto Us: A Christmas Collection.

Of the previously recorded, West has chosen well as fans will get to re-experience high energy tracks like “Come On Christmas” with its infectious joy alongside a swing jazz-flavored run through “Jingle Bells.” Also included is West’s faithful rendering of the heartwarming “Have Yourself a Merry Christmas” alongside a stirring rendition of “O, Holy Night,” which really showcases the artist’s often underestimated vocals. And a West original, “The Heart of Christmas,” wraps up the older tracks with a poignant reminder to focus on the heartbeat of the season.

West’s new additions are no less solid, following suit with his bright sound and powerful knack for songwriting.

“Unto Us” leads things off with a bright, radio ready arrangement with a great hook that lyrically celebrates the birth of the Christ child while West’s take on a classic, “The First Noel (Sing Noel)” gets a fresh infusion of life and creativity, building to a bridge of “hallelujahs” that feels like something Michael W. Smith might do. Leanna Crawford joins the artist for an acoustically flavored “Silent Night” which builds into a lush expanse of sound which is followed by another great West storytelling track in “A Christmas to Believe In,” the lyrics painting vibrant pictures alongside warm melodies. And with “Join The Angels,” West taps into some gospel grooves with a big, percussion laden jam that is big, bold, and bright, everything a great Christmas song ought to be.

While fans may grumble at the fact that this release contains five older songs from West, the five new tracks that are included here on Unto Us: A Christmas Collection ought to more than make up for it. Packed with nostalgia, faith, and Matthew West’s signature style, this is a Christmas collection that will resonate with fans new and old.

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