In the Bleak Midwinter by Matthew Gilbert: Christmas Album Review

If you are like me, you love Christmas music and every year you listen to the same albums!

Because of this, I am also very selective. I cannot just let any album invade my regular Christmas playlist. The album has to cover songs that I love and the songs have to be creative musically. A lot of Christmas albums sound the same, but there are a few that are truly unique.

One such album is In the Bleak Midwinter by Matthew Gilbert.

Tracks

The album starts strongly with “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen.” The song has a hauntingly beautiful feel to it and sets the tone for the remainder of the album.

My personal favorite is the second track, “We Three Kings,” which starts off with a catchy drum beat that keeps you moving throughout the song. If you know the original lyrics, you will also notice the lyric changes in the chorus (“star of light…guide us through the darkest night”) and the combination of original verses in the second verse. I have not heard a Christmas song quite like it, and that’s a great thing!

The next track is “O Come O Come Emmanuel,” which features more beautiful strings and electric guitar. “Angels We Have Heard on High” picks up the pace before reverting back to a more mellow sound in “What Child Is This.” Another upbeat song is “Joy to the World” which is a creative rendition and has an original chorus. “Carol of the Bells” is the only instrumental on the album and has some strong builds that keep you engaged.

Another album highlight is the original song, “Heart Home.” The lyrics reflect on how we missed the birth of Jesus the first time. But in the here and now, we can make a place for Jesus and the peace, love and joy that He brings. The chorus triumphantly proclaims:

“We make a place for peace here now/We have a thirst for love/We will make room for joy here now/Come make our hearts Your home.”

One of my favorite Christmas songs is “O Holy Night,” and Matt gives us over 7 minutes of beautiful vocals and instrumentation in his version. This leads into “Away in a Manger,” which features an original bridge that rounds out the song nicely.

The album closes with “In the Bleak Midwinter,” which at first “tricks” you into thinking it is an instrumental until the vocals begin in the second half of the song. The track makes for a perfect closer and fits well with the rest of the album.

Reflections

The most amazing thing about this album is that every instrument and part (besides the cello) was recorded by Matt himself. He is very talented and his creative skills shine through on his first album. As a drummer myself, I appreciate the creative beats and instrumentation throughout the album.

I have already added In the Bleak Midwinter to my Christmas playlist, and I think you should too. Simply put, if you want a beautiful Christmas album that sounds different from what you hear on the radio and elsewhere, then pick this one up today!

You can purchase In the Bleak Midwinter on iTunes here or on Amazon here. You can also stream the album on YouTube here.

What are your thoughts? Comment below!

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