Artist: Lincoln Brewster
Album: Joy to the World
Label: Integrity Music
Welcome to Christmas 2.0; Take your traditional holiday ditties and dress them up with a healthy dose of electric guitar, energetic drum riffs, crashing cymbals, and remixed arrangements. Lets get something straight: these are not your Grandma’s Yuletide carols. Lincoln Brewster is known for his creative songwriting and expertise on the electric guitar, and these talents prove luminous in Joy to the World, his eighth studio album.
Brewster peppers the project with the appropriate sleigh bells, chimes, and carol-like choruses to have a “Christmas and cocoa” feel to it, but still manages to maintain his mission as a singer/songwriter and pastor: Worship. The songs of this holiday are often hailed simply as “Christmas Carols” – yet I am always thrilled when I walk down the cereal aisle and hear “O Come Let Us Adore Him” emanating from the speakers above while I shop. Brewster seems to effectively reconcile the holiday spirit with the heart of a worshipper by producing a project that revisits conventional tunes with new vitality and fervor, possessing the same timeless message. To add to the worshipful tone, he even includes the Chris Tomlin melody “Our God” amongst the regular favorites, as well as an original tune: “Shout for Joy,” a song that proclaims “he has come for us / he’s the saving one.” Also, his musical prowess on the electric guitar shines in “Miraculum,” an instrumental, Trans-Siberian-esque approach to the holiday spirit.
Still, if you have a hard time breaking tradition, this album may be difficult to swallow. Many of the beloved numbers that Brewster chooses seem unfamiliar at times with the electrified spin on them (Ex: “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing,” and “Do You Hear What I Hear?”). He even throws in a rap by guest KJ-52 at the end of a vamped up and redressed “Little Drummer Boy.” This break from tradition may the very thing that listeners will either love or find difficult about this album: it breaks the mold. This is not the record you want to sit by the fire and sip cider to – instead it garners more energy and will perhaps aid worship leaders in bringing these songs before their congregations in a new light this Christmas.
*This Review First Published 11/29/2012