Peace on Earth
Casting Crowns lends an aura of drama to almost everything it record, and the band’s Christmas album Peace On Earth is no exception. The album’s mix of traditional hymns and contemporary material infuses a sense of awe to even familiar material. Though the band’s electric side is downplayed, it conveys considerable power through the use of acoustic guitars and pianos. Singer Mark Hall sounds like he was born to sing Christmas songs — his resonantly expressive tenor brings out the spiritual portent in “O Come All Ye Faithful,” “Silent Night,” and “Joy to the World.” Bandmate Melodee DeVevo joins him on a heartfelt version of Amy Grant’s “God Is With Us.” The standout tunes here are a (slightly) revised take on the band’s “While You Were Sleeping” and a modern-day recasting of the Longfellow poem “I Heard the Bells On Christmas Day.” Both of these tracks reaffirm Casting Crowns’ ability to update biblical themes with a sense of emotional urgency. That it manages to do this in the context of a holiday album is impressive. Peace On Earth is a worthy addition to this phenomenally popular band’s catalogue.