You know it was only a matter of time before the pop-punk stylings of Hawk Nelson would hop on the Christmas album bandwagon. They take a bite out of the genre in the aptly named Christmas, their sixth album adventure; and it is one wild ride.
It starts out with “Hark The Herald Angels Sing” in a fun and predictable punk version that is foot-tappingly good. And then it goes into an acoustic guitar version of “O Come Let Us Adore Him” that gives you the heartfelt sweetness you’re looking for in a Christmas album.
“Up on the Housetop” features a fun banjo and a whole lot of cowbell, how can you go wrong? Of course, he tops it off with a delightful scream in the middle that makes you go, yes, this fits just right in a song about Santa Claus.
They surprised me in a touching rendition of “The Holly and the Ivy,” which I did not see coming. It was definitely a highlight for me as the lyrics were much more nativity oriented. It wasn’t just another Christmas tune about chestnuts roasting and snow falling. “Joy To The World” showcases their vocals in a four-part a cappella rendition of the tune. Around the third verse look for a background voice that shouts “Expecto patronum.” I mean, nothing says Christmas like a little Harry Potter spell casting right? As the song gains momentum it goes through a series of key changes that go from impressive to ridiculous and it ends with lead singer Jonathan Steingard screaming as loud and as out-of-tune as possible. Kinda took the “Joy” out of the song for me.
They gain their stride back in “I Saw Three Ships” which really should have been a pop-punk song to begin with in my opinion. They round out the album with “Silent Night” that is arguably one of the best versions I’ve heard of the song in years. With a basic guitar and some smooth vocals it only gets better as a string section gently glides in. It should not be missed.
Overall Hawk Nelson did a pretty good job on this album. They chose to be a whole lot more Christ-centered in their song selections, including some songs that are seldom re-done. They executed it pretty well, without losing the charm that makes them so great. I say well done.