Prime Cuts: The Christmas Song, Angels We Have Heard on High, Joy to the World
Overall Grade: 4/5
Lincoln Brewster wins the best (and the cutest) album cover art of the year. With its multi-coloured cartoonish depiction of Brewster sitting in his homely armchair in front of a Christmas tree, the cover is an apt synopsis of the album. "A Mostly Acoustic Christmas" is indeed a family affair that not only involves Brewster's family members helping out in the recording but it also involves his own dogs. This is why Brewster's two canines have the center of attention on the album cover. Moreover, the two guitars strategically placed in the cover pick are telling. Besides Brewster's singing, one of the album's major highlights is in the execution of the songs. Brewster has a way of making his instruments converse with him in ways that are awe-inspiring. The syncopated drum patterns, the serpentine stretching of electric guitar riffs, and the rustic flourishes of the mandolin picks are all excellent displays of Brewster's musical prowess.
"A Mostly Acoustic Christmas," Brewster's sophomore festive release for Integrity Music, comprises of 8 Christmas covers and 3 instrumentals. Rather than restricting to just the religious hymns, Brewster has included both the secular as well as Christian songs. However, the album's major discount is that there's a dearth of new and original entries. Whilst Brewster's former 2012 Christmas record did boast a few originals, this time round, there time round there's none. Moreover, tracks such as "Joy to the World," "Little Drummer Boy" and "Miraculum," albeit being re-recorded, have first appeared on Brewster's first Christmas outing "Joy to the World." Is there a paucity of Christmas songs that these three cuts need to be reprised?
The album opens on a familiar note with "Joy to the World." The crunchy guitar lines matched with the toasty slightly orotund percussion give "Joy to the World" a delicious coating. Meanwhile, the mandolin flurry of "O Come All Faithful" creates a nostalgic homely feel that is heartwarming . Taking lessons from Neal Schon and Stevie Ray Vaughn, Brewster turns "I'll Be Home for Christmas" into a bluesy masterpiece with lots of elongated electric guitar reflective moments. Those who are into creative and artful displays of syncopated drum patterns will adore what Brewster did to "Angels We Have Heard on High."
Never one to slavishly rehearse through the festive favorites, Brewster adds his unique touch to "The Christmas Song." Though not a worship song per se, Brewster takes on a ruminative read giving it a holy nuance that is captivating. A little tedious though is the ultra-slow pacing of "O Come O Come Emmanuel." Up the cuteness ante is Brewster's take of "Linus and Lucy," the first of three instrumentals. "Spera in Deo" (Latin for "Hope in God") is okay without sounding "Christmasy." The best among the trio of instrumentals is the almost seven minutes long "Miraculum" - which unfolds like an exciting musical journey with lots of hills and valleys.
"A Mostly Acoustic Christmas" is more than just an average seasonal effort. Brewster doesn't just appear in the recording studio on auto-pilot mode. Rather, he has invested creativity and ingenuity into each instrument: giving personality to each of them. As a result these instruments have become conversation partners with Brewster as they together re-tell the story of Christmas.