As has been previously established over the past year, the Newsboys have taken on a completely different shape. With Michael Tait now on vocals, astonishing things have occurred with the Newsboys' sound. But with this new, saccharine-soaked pop vibe the quartet brings to the stage, the Christmas songs they choose to cover here are good choices for their style. Opening with Mariah Carey's "All I Want For Christmas Is You," the guitars and synths immediately resonates with both pop flair and Christmas cheer. "Jingle Bell Rock" and "Winter Wonderland" follow the same formula with legitimately entrancing guitar riffs infused throughout. With bells and guitars strung together, "O Holy Night" makes a glorious appearance and fits well as a slower track in the mix. Finally, "The Christmas Song" closes out the set with a classically presented rendition of the holiday favorite.
It's hard to argue that each track doesn't do a good job encompassing the Christmas spirit, but there's definitely much that lacks from the EP. First of all, four of the five tracks presented here are not exactly very spiritual in their content. While done well enough, there's very little of Jesus' birth mentioned except for "O Holy Night." And oddly enough, it's "O Holy Night" that seems the most musically lacking. For a seriously worded song with the gravity of the subject matter, it doesn't seem to quite fit the incessantly poppy sound that accompanies the song, especially with the other tracks considered. As a result, the whole project feels lopsided, almost as if the band had to include an unmistakably "keep-the-Christ-in-Christmas" favorite to keep Jesus in the project somewhere. "The Christmas Song" fits Tait's voice quite well (in reference to their song "One Shot," he can indeed "sing like Nat King"), however, interestingly enough, it's not a Newsboys track. Recorded years ago as a bonus song on Tait's Lose This Life, its composition feels like it came from a completely different recording session, and it was. In some ways, it feels a little cheap to include an old Tait song from years ago on a Newsboys record (assuming listeners won't necessarily know the difference), and though it feels tacked on to the end as a cop-out, it's still a fine track standing alone.
A Christmas project from the Newsboys has been more than overdue. It does make one wonder what the result would have looked like if Peter Furler's wit and charm were involved, and it seems to be that we'll never know. But with Tait at the reins, despite its shortcomings, Christmas!: A Newsboys Holiday is nothing but a magical EP fit for any Newsboys fan's collection this season.
Used with permission - www.jesusfreakhideout.com