Comfort and Joy
2005 / Autumn Music Productions
Review by Michael Debbage
The true message of Christmas is celebrating and remembering the birth of Christ. Since then it has been somewhat commercialized yet even here the love of friends and family gathering together to exchange gifts still holds partly true to the spirit of the first Christmas. The season for the most part brings both comfort and joy thus the title of this album as well as the spirit in which the music was arranged manifests that spirit.
Wesley’s second album In A Lifetime included three cover tunes that ultimately weakened the album. The compliment is that they sounded out of place next to the strong self-composed material. Of course, releasing an all holiday affair gives the artist the liberty of producing an album of cover songs. This time Philip polarized the In A Lifetime concept and boldly added three original compositions to the time trusted traditional tunes. In this instance the blessed blend works seamlessly with outstanding results.
The album’s opener “Away In A Manger” is mixed effortlessly with the softness of “Brahms Lullaby”. Add the “Greensleeves/What Child Is This?” alongside the original composition “In The Eyes Of A Child” and the album focuses you back on the comfort of the Christ child willing to come down from the heavens to earth. Combined with the purity of “Silent Night” it will bring back memories of your childhood as your restless head finally drifted off to dreamland on Christmas Eve anticipating the big day ahead.
In contrast, there is the pure joy and bountiful message of celebration and love that is expressed in the more upbeat “Joy To The World”. Although a little more subdue there is the transcendent “Hark The Herald Angels Sing” that also effectively expresses the joyous spirit of Christmas. And to bring both aspects of comfort and joy there is the amalgamation of both spirits that live in the self-titled track that was previously featured on In A Lifetime.
Concluding with the brand new dreamy and exquisite composition “Wishing For Home”, you realize that from start to finish Wesley manages to harness the spirit of Christmas. In fact, even the artwork expresses this unity with a landscape of a simple but strong Christmas tree that stands alone in a field of virginal snow like a beacon of light to the world that surrounds it.
Wesley’s music is pure and simple that brings both comfort and joy to a season that is many times overwrought with commercialism. After a busy day of rushing around fulfilling our holiday duties, Philip Wesley’s album is a perfect antidote to bring you back to the true reality of Christmas; peace on earth and goodwill to all mankind.
November 1, 2005