Various Artists

Gospel Christmas [Empire]

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Beginning with a lively rendition of the longtime Christmas favorite "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing" by Norman Hutchins, the Disky label's Gospel Christmas offers a number of different artists performing some of the most recognized Christmas favorites in an energized gospel choir style. While the album, for the most part, lists the names of individual artists as the performers (Richard Smallwood, Tramaine Hawkins, Pastor Donald Alford), don't be misled -- these songs are performed choir style with plenty of ecstatic gospel voices. There's no shortage of excitement here, for sure. This album's called Gospel Christmas for a reason, and if you enjoy the gospel style of exuberant voices praising the Lord through song, then this album should definitely be your cup of tea. The chorus-style singing is surely the highlight, while the musical backing unfortunately leaves much to be desired, sounding a little bit too much like lo-fi Whitney Houston or Lionel Richie records from the mid- to late '80s. If you can look past these rudimentary synthesizers and drum machines and focus on the singing, Gospel Christmas should prove to be a pleasant listening experience, particularly if you like your Christmas favorites delivered with vigor -- again, if anything, there's no shortage of energy here.

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