Prime Cuts: Silver and Gold, O Holy Night, Love is Alive Forever
Overall Grade: 5/5
When producer Wayne Haun and the Perrys unite, magic happens. If you are familiar with Haun, you would know that he's one of the most awarded musician in CCM. This comes as no surprise as Haun is a connoisseur in bringing us back to the sepia tone era of Frank Sinatra where music was romantic and affecting. Haun's stellar use of string orchestration is something that deserves multiple standing ovations. Haun's own solo efforts ("Sentimental Season" and "Old Soul") as well as the many StowTown Records releases are sublime specimens of such musical prowess. The Perrys, on the other hand, are a national treasure. Their brand of harmonies and their ability to breathe life into notes and words have made them one of the most endearing Gospel groups since 1970. Nevertheless, it is mind boggling that after 47 years, "A Very Perry Christmas" is their first ever festive effort.
Though there are only 9 tracks on this disc and though many of the songs here are tried and true Christmas classics, there's something magical about this project as soon as the first note strikes. Sweeping us right into the romantic mistletoe-laced soundscape of the season is the Perrys take of "A Holly Jolly Christmas." Easily giving Perry Como a run for his money is the Perrys' amorous take of "Silver Bells." Who would have ever imagined that window shopping along the busy sidewalks could be so romantic? "We Wish You a Merry Christmas," likewise, comes alive with the use of the jazzy big band sound. Never forgetting their country roots, Haun adds some jubilant fiddling to the bells and strings on "Christmas Time's A-Coming."
Yet, not all the songs on the record are there to re-create the sentiments of the season. Songs that speak of the true meaning of Christmas also get the spotlight. Though copious artists have attempted the Christmas hymn "O Holy Night," the Perrys' take ranks loftily as one of the best. The way the team holds onto the high notes and linger upon them as if they have had an everlasting supply of oxygen in their lungs are breathtaking. Then we come to the album's two original entries: "We Need a Silent Night (with Silent Night)" is a clever and seamless weaving of the traditional carol "Silent Night" with a contemporary meditation of Christ's birth.
The piano-led "Love is Alive Forever" thrives on the excellent use of variegated stories to illustrate the theme of the power of love. Nevertheless, the best song on the record is the Perry's rendition of Burl Ives' "Silver and Gold." With lyrics added to focus the song on the birth of Jesus, the song has a melodic structure that simply defies the passing of time. If you like a Christmas release that is brilliantly produced with the right balance of religious as well as secular songs, this album is it. Beautifully executed and convincingly delivered, such combinations certainly have ways of igniting magic.