For those who love everything about Christmas.
Artist: Matt Wertz (www.mattwertz.com)
Label: Handwritten Records (Provident)
Length: 12 tracks/42:10 minutes
Matt Wertz’s love of all things Christmas is obvious on Snow Globe. It’s like being shaken in the midst of one and being caught-up in a swirl of wonder. It’s enough to make you rethink the seemingly mundane.
With the help of producer Ben Shive (a collaborator with Andrew Peterson), Wertz has given us a near classic. It is one of the most enjoyable Christmas recordings that I have heard. In a word, this is fun. Given that it’s a celebration of every aspect of the season, it has broad appeal. You could give this to someone who is not a person of faith without concern about causing unnecessary offense.
There is not a single misstep, and this offers a lot: a wide range of music styles (sometimes in the same song), a selection of classics complemented by well-written new songs, all conveying different moods and sentiments.
The CD also includes a handful of guest appearances. The most notable is Amy Grant on background vocals on her classic, “Tennessee Christmas.” Dobro gives it a rural, country-feel. This album is worth having just to get this updated version.
A banjo adds to the whimsy on the title track. It is not the sort of thing that one normally finds on a Christmas recording, but it is indicative of the eclectic and sometimes retro production served-up by Ben Shive. Had a known when I first saw this that he was involved, I would have jumped at the chance to review this. He is a multi-talented artist and producer who graces this with wonderful variety.
To give just one example, the most spiritually sublime moment, The Nashville Children’s Choir on “O Holy Night,” is followed by a spirited, orchestrated instrumental rendition of “Sleigh Ride.” Hold on tight or you might fall off. The only other instrumental, an abbreviated “Christmastime is Here,” is just Shive on piano. It is just the right touch for a lovely song.
New Christmas songs can be hit or miss, but the ones here are excellent. One slight drawback is light spiritual content, but that is okay. There are plenty of other recordings where it is more of a focus. What makes this exceptional is the exuberance and in how much it encompasses.
It’s also decidedly upbeat. This is no blue Christmas. Just try to stay down after listening to this.
Even better, consider becoming like some I know who have a high regard for Christmas music and are not afraid to listen to it any time of the year. You might be surprised at how rewarding it can be.