Josh Garrels: The Light Came Down

We don’t usually review Christmas albums here; often they’re just a cash grab by a current “It Artist” rather than a meaningful piece of art. But if there’s one word to describe Josh Garrels albums, “meaningful” would have to be it. His songs are once again composed, in the fullest sense of the word, with the care of a Sufjan Stevens, The Last Bison, or Sigur Ros. On this outing, his most explicitly Christian, Garrels eschews “chestnuts roasting” style holiday sentiment. In its place, we get gorgeous renditions of well-known carols (“Silent Night”), selections from the gospel repertoire (“The Virgin Mary Had One Son”) and modern hymnody (the eschatological “O Day of Peace”), ambient instrumentals, an obscure British feasting song (“The Boar’s Head”), and several Garrels originals, all performed in his difficult-to-pigeonhole baroque/folk/soul style and aching tenor. This album’s Thanksgiving release date made it difficult to get the word out for the Christmas season just passed, so do yourself a favor and pick it up now to enhance your Advent in 2017.

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