Music CD Review: John Schlitt, The Christmas Project
As you’re preparing for Christmas and having your ears bombarded with Santa and Rudolph everywhere you go, you might find John Schlitt’s new Christmas album a refreshing change. John, the former lead singer for Petra, takes his unique style and applies it to some favorite standards of the season. You will enjoy his new CD, The Christmas Project, especially if your taste tends to 70s and 80s rock, but there may be something here for almost everyone.
The album contains ten songs, mostly Christmas standards, with two original additions. The titles included are: “Halleluiah Chorus,” “Do You Hear What I Hear,” “Little Drummer Boy,” “O Holy Night,” “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen,””Good Christian Men Rejoice,” “That Spirit of Christmas,” “We Three Kings,” “What Christmas Needs to Be,” and “What Child Is This.”
I tend to be a purist when it comes to classical music like Handel’s Messiah, so I had a hard time with John’s first song, which is his rendition of the “Halleluiah Chorus.” It was fine until he got to the high soprano parts using a falsetto, and then it got too rocky for my taste. I really enjoyed the rest of the album, though. John’s pleasant voice with its periodic, hoarse tones worked well on the arrangements. I especially appreciated the creative rhythms in “Little Drummer Boy” and “O Holy Night” and “What Child is This.” “Do You Hear What I Hear” is introduced by a sweet child’s voice and animal sounds. Then the song alternates between a driving rock beat and a gentler one. “God Rest Ye Merry Gentleman” has a slightly stronger rock feel, with a “dirty” guitar sound, but I like it. “Good Christian Men Rejoice” has an 80s rock sound. The original song, “That Spirit of Christmas” is an easygoing, toe-tapping and pleasant song. “We Three Kings” is also an enjoyable, easygoing rendition. “What Christmas Needs to Be” talks about the true meaning of Christmas. In this song, John sings, “The hope of God’s salvation is what Christmas needs to be.” I really like this song and believe it will become a Christmas standard. My favorites are probably “Little Drummer Boy,” “O Holy Night,” and “What Christmas Needs to Be.”
John and his friends have done a great job on this album, and I recommend it, especially if you like John’s style of music. This album is a nice addition to the repertoire of Christian Christmas music, and I hope it does really well.