Sounds of the 2012 Christmas Season: Reverence for the Season – Bob Dylan and Jim Cole

886975732326Any friends or family of mine know that I am a what might be called a Christmas music enthusiast. My library of Christmas music grows by leaps and bounds each year and it’s already large enough to take several days to get through without listening to the same track twice. In this post I’d like to feature a couple of albums that have risen to the top in my Christmas rotation so far this season. I think both are worthy of your consideration if you’re looking for a couple of decent albums to provide the score to your holiday season.

Bob Dylan’s CHRISTMAS IN THE HEART, in the past couple of years, has become a staple Christmas album for me. Those not familiar with him usually, at least, raise an eyebrow at the first sound of voice as it drops on top of the lush, warm background arrangement. But, it doesn’t take long to find the groove and begin enjoying the album which comes across as a nostalgic remembrance of classic Christmas music of years ago. From “Here Comes Santa Claus,” to “Silver Bells,” and “O’ Little Town of Bethlehem,” the album is, indeed, a heartwarming collection.

Jim Cole’s UNTO US A CHILD IS BORN is brand new in my collection this season and, while it is a different direction than Dylan’s Christmas album, it also treats the holiday season and the notion of a Christmas album with an intentional respect that comes through clearly in each song. While Dylan’s album focused on popular Christmas songs, both sacred and secular, Cole’s album focuses on the sacred center of Christmas with traditional favorites such as “God Rest Ye Merry Gentleman,” and “What Child Is This?,” in addition to other tracks such as “In Bethlehem Tonight,” that, while lesser known, are just as carefully crafted and performed. The folk music tone of the album is reflective and quiet and Cole’s masterful guitar work provides a common thread throughout the duration of UNTO US A CHILD IS BORN. It isn’t as widely circulated as Dylan’s Christmas offering, but, certainly, just as worthy of your ear during the holiday season.

For Your Benefit: BENEFIT OF THE DOUBT by Josh Harmony – free download available 6/5/12

For those of you who are familiar with this blog, you know that the music of Josh Harmony has played a significant role in my life over the past year or so (see earlier Harmony-related posts). I was graciously introduced to his music by the ever-accomplished Erick Cole (who collaborates with Josh on a good deal of his music) a year or two ago and, since that time, have gradually become more and more appreciative of the distinctive and sincere approach that Josh Harmony takes in making music. It wasn’t until much later on that I found out that Josh Harmony is actually already a well-respected name in the skateboard world (see some great shots of him in action, an interview clip, and a music clip here). Anyways, my main point of this post is that Josh’s first full-length album, BENEFIT OF THE DOUBT, will be available for free download from his site starting tomorrow, Tuesday, 6/5/12 for a limited time. You owe it to yourself to check it out. Your typical run-of-the-mill-sausage-product music download, BENEFIT OF THE DOUBT is not. In the meantime, check out two songs already released by Josh via You Tube:

Encouragement For Encouragement: Josh Harmony

Skateboarder and musician Josh Harmony has a very worthwhile project in the works that he could use some help with to get off the ground. While its true that he is a pro skateboarder, the down economy has hit the skating industry as well and the funding necessary to give his new full album project the support it needs is simply not a given. He’s got some great incentives listed for pledge categories starting out as small as $1, so, please, take a moment to watch the video and give it some thought. Music from his last two EP’s LAMPS and TALLER THAN TREES have been a tremendous source of inspiration and encouragement for me in the wake of the end of my father’s battle with brain cancer. For that, I owe a great deal to Josh, Erick, and all involved with this great music.  Please check out the video and consider making a pledge. Thanks.

View the video here.