Recording information: Air Candy Studios; Conservatory Park; Deer Valley Studio, Franklin, TN; Digital Recorders, Nashville, TN; Jeff Thomas Productions; Little Big Sound; Lyricanvas.com; MartinSound, Alhambra, CA; My Refuge Studio, McDonough, GA; Nickel And Dime Studios, Atlanta, GA; Sigma Sound Studio, Philadelphia, PA; Sputnik Sound, Nashville, TN; The Bat Cave, Marietta, GA; The Brown Owl, Nashville, TN; Tomahawk, Nashville, TN; War Memorial Auditorium, Nashville, TN; Zoo Studio, Franklin, TN.
The Essential Christmas Collection features contributions from 12 contemporary Christian music artists, giving a snapshot of modern gospel from both established acts and newcomers. Familiar voices like Michael W. Smith, Jars of Clay, and Rebecca St. James mix with up-and-coming acts like Tenth Avenue North and Anthem Lights for this homogeneous yet pleasing holiday collection. The album finds all of the artists well within their comfort zones, and thus listeners hear the characteristic Southern rock of Third Day, the straightforward singalong play of Casting Crowns, and the experimental alt-rock of Revive. Powerful and poignant moments also include Brandon Heath's "The Night Before Christmas" and Kerrie Roberts' "Silent Night." ~ Jared Johnson