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Album Review: Light Has Come
John Albert Thomas
Cover image of the album Light Has Come by John Albert Thomas
Light Has Come
John Albert Thomas
2015 / John Albert Thomas
42 minutes
Review by Kathy Parsons
Light Has Come is a collection of thirteen Christmas carols (two are combined into a medley) arranged and performed for solo piano by John Albert Thomas. Thomas mentions in the liner notes that Christmas was a sacred time for his family and how much he always enjoyed getting together with his church family to sing Christmas hymns. “For this album, I decided to add my own style to some of those favorites… It is my way of worshipping the Light who came into the world. I hope it brings peace to your heart as well.” The album was recorded at Piano Haven Studios in Sedona, AZ on Joe Bongiorno’s wonderful Shigeru Kawai grand piano. The piano sound is warm and velvety-smooth - a perfect match for Thomas’ soulful arrangements and playing style. The arrangements are not flashy, but are full and rich, expressing the beauty of the melodies and the religious significance of the songs rather than being party music. Thomas has assembled an interesting combination of songs, most of which are familiar, but there are a few less-often heard gems as well.

Light Has Come begins with “O Holy Night.” I find it really interesting that when I was growing up, this gorgeous song always seemed to be presented in a dark, almost tragic setting. Over the past couple of decades, the mood of the song has lightened considerably, and Thomas’ arrangement is almost light-hearted and celebratory, which seems right. Although the title sounds depressing, “In the Bleak Midwinter” conveys the stillness and quiet of a winter landscape. Thomas’ arrangement is very peaceful and very beautiful. “Go Tell It on the Mountain” is light and playful. “How Great Our Joy” and “Break Forth, O Beauteous Heavenly Light” were not familiar to me, but both are beautiful traditional German carols with reflective, haunting melodies. “Silent Night” makes great use of the piano dampers to create a feeling of shimmering stillness and open space - an exceptionally nice arrangement of this Christmas standard. “Picardy/Carol of the Bells” is the medley, and it’s another haunting beauty. “Picardy” is an old French carol and the melody has been used for several carols, including “Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence.” I’m always amazed at how well “Carol of the Bells” adapts to so many different styles and treatments, and this one is exceptional - my favorite track on the album! “It Came Upon the Midnight Clear” is light and joyful, bringing this lovely Christmas album to a close with a smile.

Light Has Come would be a beautiful addition to any collection of Christmas music and is sure to add musical joy to the season for years to come. It is available from JohnAlbertThomas.com, Amazon, iTunes, and CD Baby. Recommended!
November 20, 2016
This review has been tagged as:
Holiday AlbumsHoliday Albums: 2016
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