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Kim Walker-Smith - When Christmas Comes [Review]

Kim Walker-Smith - When Christmas Comes [Review]

By Joel Paul on November 05, 2014

Christmas approaches. In addition to gifts such as toys or televisions, Christmas delivers memories: memories of my childhood, and memories made as I’ve watched my own children grow up. Kim Walker-Smith’s Christmas album titled, When Christmas Comes, brings back memories for me.

I’m familiar with the bulk of the tracks on this album. As such, my excitement in listening to this album was not the experience of new music, but experiencing old music in a new, memorable way. I found myself recalling events from my childhood as I listened to “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” and “Rudolph the Red-Nose Reindeer.” These two tracks reveal another reason I appreciate Walker-Smith’s album. The tracks are not all the standard Christian Christmas music. She included songs that do not have themes of the Savior.

Walker-Smith’s rendition of “Let it Snow” harkens to the era of Bing Crosby. Mr. Crosby sang it with a swagger. Walker-Smith sings it with a hint of soul. Her voice is powerful. She creates a depth and rich tone as she strolls through the tune. While the tempo slower than usual, this creates that soul and emotion which I found enjoyable. It’s a fantastic song to showcase the versatility of her voice.

“O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” is majestic, heavenly, and powerful. Walker-Smith’s voice is the center of this piece. It’s initially wrapped with a simple melody on a piano. As the song progresses, other instrumentation is added and bursts into a full ethereal expression of rejoicing because of the Savior’s birth. The emotion of this song erupts through Walker-Smith’s voice, and this is the most powerful aspect of this track. It’s a deep, heartfelt rejoicing because of Jesus Christ.

“O Holy Night” is arranged simply. There is an acoustic guitar, a string section, a piano, and minimalist bells and drums sprinkled in the latter half of the piece. The volume and intensity build throughout the song. The simplistic arrangement makes this song rich and robust. The lyrics are the focal point of this piece which is the most impactful component of this song. Sure, a hundred and fifty instruments or musical elements could have been squeezed into the song, but I believe that would have detracted from the message of the lyrics.

When Christmas Comes contains tracks that are Christmas standards. Kim Walker-Smith has done a classy and tasteful job retaining the original composition of the songs, yet adds her artistic personality to the tracks. It is beautifully done. While the arrangements are primarily simple, this is the greatest strength of this album. The simple instrumentation allows Walker-Smith’s voice to shine, and the lyrical content to be the primary focus. Her voice is superb. It is like a gigantic bowl of chocolate pudding. It’s thick, smooth, rich, and tasty. Admittedly, that’s an odd analogy, and I hope she can forgive me if she reads this review. My point is this: her voice is a whole load of creamy goodness, and she handles these Christmas standards with excellence and class.

Disclosure: A copy of this album was provided by the record label or artist for review purposes. The iTunes widget above is a part of an affiliate program. If you purchase the album through the widget, a small percentage of the sale will benefit All About Worship.

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Joel Paul

Joel Paul

Joel grew up in Kansas City and began playing music at an early age. While his first musical lessons were for the accordion, he found his passion with guitar, mixed in a few years of flute, and has picked up bass the last three years. A husband for twenty years, and the father of two teenagers he plays bass and guitar as part of a praise team at a local congregation in the midtown corridor of Kansas City.