The year 2013 is drawing to a close. As Christmas nears, we enter a period during which humanity is struck with a condition I call “HPS”- holiday preliminary syndrome. It’s essentially a time of planning, stress, and spending. It’s the time when families gather over larger-than-life meals to give thanks, and then hypocritically transform into desperate madmen stampeding to black friday sales. It is indeed a hectic time of year, when one can easily forget the happiness and cheer that the holidays bring.
Thankfully, the Sidewalk Prophets are here to help us remember with MERRY CHRISTMAS TO YOU, their first ever Christmas album. Listeners will be pleased with this 12-track record, which contains superb original songs by the Prophets themselves, along with some irresistable classics that we’ve all grown fond of.
The catchy kick-off “What A Glorious Night” exceeded my expectations for a Christmas song. Driven by soft guitar strums and jingle bells, the five-minute song captures the holiday essence in a way that not many bands do.
Lead singer David Frey talks about what went into making “What A Glorious Night”:
Yep. It’s even got a Charlie Brown voiceover. Well done, Sidewalk Prophets. But that’s not the only present that MERRY CHRISTMAS TO YOU brings to the tree. The very next track, a smart cover of Irving Berlin’s “White Christmas”, features the one and only Francesca Battistelli, and follows a softer, snap-your-fingers tune. The band’s own “Give Me Christmas” follows, delivering a bright and piano-driven reminder of the reason for the Christmas buzz. Love, not tradition, is the true purpose of giving.
Several well-done neo-classics can also be found on the record, including the well-wishing “Holly Jolly Christmas”, “What Child Is This”, and the choir-and-organ “That Spirit Of Christmas”. The infamous “Silent Night” is also featured; although the song does its job of allowing a sort of “selah” moment to the album, I can’t help but ask…did we REALLY need another cover of this song?
As for the rest of Sidewalk’s originally-written songs- the MERRY CHRISTMAS TO YOU album is among the best you can get. It’s not often that NEW Christmas music is written, and it’s even less likely that music will stand the test of time and not be buried under next year’s holiday tunes. In that case, the Sidewalk Prophets shine in the realm of lasting impressions, the crown jewel of which being the fifth track “Hey Moon”. It’s an ingeniously magical dialogue from the star of Bethlehem to the moon, watching HPS-stricken humanity down below [get your tissues when this one plays, people].
The album closes out its merry journey with a bang; the joyful “Hope Was Born This Night” features vivid choruses of worship that reminisce the angels that announced the birth of Christ, and “Because It’s Christmas” combats the stress of the holidays head-on; too many times we’ve dropped the Christmas spirit in exchange for the anxiety of visiting families, purchasing gifts, and bringing food (or forgetting to). The song culminates the MERRY CHRISTMAS TO YOU album with the truth of all the lights and trimmings- Christmas is a time of celebration.