Prime Cuts: Something's Happening, Giving Season, The Grace of the Father
Overall Grade: 5/5
Beautiful is an understated description of CeCe Winans' latest Christmas album. Just like the theatrical sounds of a Disney movie soundtrack, this album is nothing short of stunning. The sweeping orchestral sounds, the wistful melodies and Winans' soaring R&B-tingled vocals, this album is a classy festive offerings delivered with a blanket of heart warming sounds. The beauty of the record resides not just in its sounds, but also its lyrical content. While many in Winans' professional stature would be quick to abandon their religious roots and opt for a more democratic secular album, this album is unapologetically Christ-centered.
Such a richly textured sound befitting of the season and its accompanying Christian message are credited to Winans' son, Alvin Love III. Love was also a maestro behind his mother's GRAMMY® and Dove Award winning album, Let Them Fall In Love. While many a lesser artist would play it safe by front loading her record with tried-and-true traditional carols, not Winans. Half of this 10-song album are new songs and four of these originals open the record. The title cut "Something's Happening" speaks of the monumental birth of Christ as the accumulative climax of all redemptive history. The way Winans functions as our tour guide pointing out how everything climaxes with Christ's birth is breathtaking.
The haunting piano, the stirring strings, and the emotive nuances of Winans makes the melodramatic "This World Will Never be the Same" absolutely mesmerising. "Giving Season" has the amorous feel of "Silver Bells." However, "Giving Season's" message is much more piercing and weighty: And if your money is low/Think what to give beyond dollars/Encourage somebody you know/Give from the value you hold. "The Grace of the Father" is another stand out classic to be with its more Gospel-ish feel.
The other original is the non-religious "It's Christmas;" the song has a more 70s-soul vibe as Winans revels in the sentimentality of the season. The other half of the record are all traditional carols. This is one of the very rare cases where the originals actually excel the classics. Nevertheless, Winans still shows absolute delight in "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day" and vulnerability on "Silent Night." On the whole, this record is classy, memorable and Jesus exalting. If you want a Christmas album that captures the fireside warmth of the season yet still has a Biblical bearing, this is it.