Wonderful, special Christmas album

Music Review by Shelley Wasserman

Released in SA by Brettian Productions

Now we are talking!!!! This album is not your typical Christmas album.  This has something special.

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The plan was to review all 3 Christmas CD’s I have to do together…but I just can’t bring myself to do that as that would not do this CD any justice.

Despite Josh Wilson being one of the top songwriters and talented musicians around at the moment, I was still expecting the cheesy renditions of Christmas carols we hear year in and year out but I was sooooo wrong and instead really pleasantly surprised.

I love this album because it really is the whole package deal…Great lyrics, fantastic music and arrangement of the songs.  The songs celebrate our Saviour’s birth, yes…BUT it does not end there.  It wraps up what our hope is all about: How He died on the cross for our sins and because of that, death has died and Jesus is alive!

The tracklisting:

  1. The First Noel (Instrumental)
  2. Jesus is Alive
  3. Go Tell It on the Mountain (feat. Mandisa)
  4. Do You Hear What I Hear
  5. Christmas Changes Everything
  6. Almost Christmas
  7. Emmanuel
  8. Carol of the Bells (Instrumental)
  9. Angels We Have Heard on High
  10. Once a Year (feat. Andrew Peterson)

As you can see from the tracklisting, you will recognise most of these songs.  Four of these are originals and two are instrumental.

Incredible instrumental talent
‘The First Noel’ kicks off this album instrumentally and really showcases Joel’s incredible talent on a wide range of instruments as well as his ability to put a song together in a way that just draws you in. It starts with a beautiful keyboard intro and then his incredible guitar skills steal the show.  ‘Carol of the Bell’s’ is track 6 and is also an instrumental.  It is just as mesmerizingly beautiful and I am blown away once again by his skill.  I honestly (and please do not judge me) do not enjoy Christmas carols, but these instrumental versions I could seriously see me playing in my house over and over again as wonderful background music to our Christmas Day festivities.

‘Jesus is Alive’ gave me goosebumps!  Team such truthful and powerful words with Joel’s talent and it is bound to be something special.   This song is Christmas and Easter rolled into one.  I know it is not really the done thing…BUT I want to share most of the lyrics of this song with you, and ask you to click on this link at the same time…It’s worth it! J


‘Wish that I was there,
On that silent night,
When your tiny heart started beating for mine, ….
When you turned a stable into Holy ground.
I sing along, the angels song.

Noel, Noel, Jesus is alive.
Emanuel, hope is here tonight.
So go, and tell, the world that death has died.
‘Cause Jesus is alive. Yea Jesus is alive.

…This Saviour in a manger changes everything.
That’s why we sing.

Sin you have no sting.
Hell you have no power. (Jesus is alive)
Curse you are no more.
This is your final hour. (Jesus is alive)
Because the son of God
Has not left us alone. (Jesus is alive)
He’ll live and die and rise again, and then he’ll bring us home. (Jesus is alive)
The old will pass away
And we will become new. (Jesus is alive)
This baby boy is making all sad things untrue.’

What a song for Christmas! Hope you enjoyed that as much as I did.

Groovy rendition
Go Tell it on the Mountain’ is a groovy rendition of this well known song.  Mandisa joins Josh on this song that has a wide variety of instruments being played.  I like the feel of this song.

‘Do You Hear What I hear?’ is a song that relays how the message of Jesus’s birth could have been spread throughout Bethlehem that incredible day.  It ends with ‘O Come Let Us Adore Him’ which is the appropriate response of adoration of those who came to see what had happened, as well as those of us today who love Him and praise Him for all that He has done.

‘Christmas Changes Everything’ is another of Joel’s original tracks.  It is anthemic, with a wide variety of accompanying instruments.  It declares how the birth of Jesus brought hope and changed everything forever because ‘Love has found us, hope in a manger, our Saviour is setting us free, this is rescue, Christ has come to make us new, oh Christmas changes everything’.

‘Almost Christmas’ is a fun jazzy acoustic track where Josh sings about feeling like he is 8 years old again, being with family, and making memories, but remembering that God is with us because of December 25th.  The saxophone and bells help this song get that real Christmas feel.

‘O Come, O Come Emmanuel’ is an acoustically driven song that has a Jewish feel to its sound in the way that he has used his voice as well as the choir.  It sings of Him coming to redeem captive Israel.

‘Angels We Have Heard on High’ starts off beautifully with Josh’s vocals and different instruments at different times getting to display their unique sounds.  Josh’s version of this song is lovely and very different to the original.

‘Once a Year’ ends off the album.  He uses this song to challenge our mindsets.  In December people give cheerfully to those in need, but what about the other 11 months of the year?  Would it not be wonderful if we were always mindful of others and always giving to those less fortunate? ‘Wouldn’t it be something if we all learned to love like it’s Christmas more than once a year?’

In summary, this is a wonderful Christmas album that is also the first Christmas album I have enjoyed listening to.  If you are a fan of holiday music and are looking for a good buy…this would be a good one to have a look at.

Someone online who bought this CD had the following to say which I thought would be helpful: “The pride of place of “Noel,” Wilson’s first ever Christmas effort, is in the fact that there is something for everyone. Fans who have loved to hear Wilson picking at his guitar as he did before with “Amazing Grace” (from “Life is Not a Snapshot”) or “It Is Well” (from “See You”) will love the 2 instrumentals here. Others who enjoy Wilson as a creative songwriter will again be awed by the originals. And while those who want something familiar that comes with the season will have much to thank God for here. “Noel,” in short, is satisfying regardless of where your preference lies.”

To listen to more of the songs on this album click on this link.

One Comment

  1. This is definitely the soundtrack to my Christmas. More than the amazing music, the message of the album is incredible! If you haven’t heard his stuff yet, check out his YouTube Channel. You’ll get a good taste of his ministry and music.