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Bethlehem Skyline
Artist: Various Artists
Label: Centricity Records
Time: 11 tracks/42:07

Centricity Records has delivered a new Christmas collection to CCM fans.  It has a little bit new, old, and in-between.  Is it a classic?  Well no, but it does have many good things, including 1 new song that has the makings of a classic (if it were only being released by a label with more reach into radio).  The eleven tracks include two each from downhere, Jason Gray, Circleslide, Jaime Jamgochian, and Daniel Kirkley, plus 1 track featuring all of the artists (The "Centricity Community Choir").

Maybe this says something about my current disconnect from modern-day CCM, but though I have heard of downhere, this is my first time hearing there music.  Color me impressed.  Their two tracks are very good ("Glory to God in the Highest") and bordering-on-classic (the powerful original "How Many Kings
).  They deliver solid performances both musically and lyrically.  The vocals and arrangements fit into the modern Christmas environment very well.

Circleslide suffer from following downhere's two selections on this disc.  While they are fine, there is nothing particularly special in their delivery.  Jamgochian delivers two good covers of  traditional Christmas tunes.  I particularly enjoyed her version of "Come Thou Long Expected Jesus."  In addition to her pleasant, classic arrangements, she delivers a nice break from all of the male singers.

Jason Gray offers covers of two fairly new additions to the Christmas oeuvre.  His "Mary Did You Know" is a fairly straightforward rock interpretation that doesn't do much for the song.  However he delivers a fine rendition of the Pierce Pettis penned "Miriam" that is another highlight to the disc.  Daniel Kirkley, as Jamgochian, delivers two Christmas standards.  He gives a crooner-light version of "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" that is pleasant, but not special.  Similarly, his "What Child is This?" sounds fine.  Everyone joins in on "Oh Come All Ye Faithful," which works well in blending the diverse talents. 

The disc was a pleasant surprise with several really good songs, many pleasant interpretations, and only oe clunker.  For a various artists collection from a small label, I consider that a rousing success.

By Jonathan Nelson 


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