3:1 CD Review: Everything Christmas (Greater Vision)
1. Grace Has a Face: Several previous artists have cut this Phil Cross song, including the Hoppers, Triumphant Quartet, and Cross himself. But this rendition brings out the richness and power of the lyric. This is the rendition that will define the song.
2. A Cradle in Bethlehem: Though this song has been cut by several noted secular artists, this appears to be the first Southern Gospel rendition. Rodney Griffin’s rendition is so heartfelt that a casual listener might assume he had written the song.
3. Orchestrations: The orchestrations and instrumental arrangements for this album are consistently rich and lush. Care is evident down to the tiniest detail—like a brief, passing quote from “Away in a Manger” in the song “Grace Has a Face.” Gerald Wolfe described this project by saying, “This is how Christmas is supposed to sound.” He’s right.
:1. One thing I would change: Hymn Bridges: Hymn bridges don’t work if they prove the new song to be nowhere near as strong as the hymn. It’s the opposite story on “Grace Has a Face.” Its hymn bridge, “There’s Something About That Name,” doesn’t work because the classic song is nowhere near as good as the new one. Yes, I am serious.
Traditional or Progressive
Middle-of-the-road; classic orchestrated Christmas sound.
Explanation of Review Guidelines Exception
Yes, I know the review guidelines state that SouthernGospelBlog.com only reviews all-Gospel Christmas recordings. When Gerald Wolfe asked if I would review this project, I explained the policy, but told him that I would make an exception for him. Two reasons led to this exception: First, after deconstructing the best fast song from his last mainline, here, I owed him one! Second, the remainder of the project is so strong that, were it not for the secular songs, this would be a five-star review.
Group members: Chris Allman (tenor), Gerald Wolfe (lead), Rodney Griffin (baritone). • Review copy provided. • Song list: Everything Christmas (overture); God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen; Do You Hear What I Hear; A Cradle in Bethlehem; It’s The Most Wonderful Time of the Year; O Holy Night; Sleigh Ride; I Heard the Bells; Grace Has a Face (Hope Has Hands); There’s No Place Like Home for Christmas / I’ll Be Home for Christmas.