David and Nicole Binion “Dwell: Christmas” Album Review

David & Nicole Binion

Prime Cuts: Hope Awakes (featuring Steffany Gretzinger), Making Room, The Reason (featuring William McDowell)

Overall Grade: 3.75/5

The pride of David and Nicole Binion's "Dwell: Christmas" lies in its ability to capture both the grandeur and the intimacy of Christmas.  On one hand, "Dwell: Christmas" is certainly a red-carpeted grandiose affair.  Helping the duo build a star-studded cumulus are the accompany voices of Gospel music legend William McDowell, the Potter House Choir, former Bethel Music's Steffany Gretzinger, Daniel Johnson and their daughter and fellow artist MDSN.  Just as big as the celebrated cloud of guest artists, are the sounds of some of the songs here.  Taking a lesson from big-sounding teams such as Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir and Sovereign Grace Music, a huge portion of the songs are swaddled around the lush sounds of orchestrated strings and lofty Gospel choir endowments, creating a majestic aura befitting of Christmas.  However, the Binions are also carefully to straddle into the more contemplative moments of Christmas offering some intimate worship moments balanced the strident celebration.  

Married for more than 25 years, David and Nicole Binion have been involved in ministry for over two decades. Last fall they planted Dwell Church in their hometown of Dallas, and they continue to teach and lead worship at various events and other churches around the world. "Dwell: Christmas" is the couple's first Christmas offering and their sophomore effort for Integrity Music. The album was was recorded live at TBN in Dallas, Texas, just like their highly successful August 2018 live release, "Dwell: A Live Worship Experience."

The album begins with propulsive "Let Us Adore." A tuneful call to worship that rings with familiarity as it is a newly renovated rendition of "O Come All Ye Faithful."  Sounding like a piece from Handel's magisterial Messiah is "Glory to God."  Thanks to the powerful vocal support of the Potter House Choir, "Glory to God" is an awe-inspiring Gospel opulence that is deserving of one's standing ovation.  The same can be said of "God with Us" which is to be applauded for the heightened worship atmosphere the song creates.  Children are brought in to sing along with the Binions on the campy "A Merry Merry Christmas."  If cutesy kiddy Christmas singalongs are your thing, then you will also appreciate the seven and a half minute "Christmas Medley."

Those who like their worship music to be contemplative will love the ballad "Hope Awakes."  The hope that Jesus' birth brings  gets even more palatable in the supple alto of Bethel Music's former worship leader Steffany Gretzinger.  Nicole Binion and William McDowell sound perfect together on "The Reason."  Their contrasting intonations and inflections give texture and dimension to this power ballad. The Binion's 18 year-old daughter MDSN gets to sing lead on the rippling synth-based  "Silent Night." If you are looking for a worship song that gets right into our marrow awakening us to holiness, listen to "Making Room."  Here, songwriters David Binion and Mitch Wong (a name to look out for) have taken the Biblical notion of Bethlehem having "no room" for baby Jesus and have applied it to our modern context of worship: No room in our worship for Jesus/Forsaking His will for a stage/Content to just go through the motions/Get through the list and we'll call it a day /No room for Jesus.   

However, if there's a tooth to pick, the album would be stronger and even more impacting if some of the songs were edited.  "Making Room" is a great ballad, but does it need to stretch for over the length of three tracks, clocking in at almost 16 minutes?  The same goes for "God with Us" which runs for over 12 minutes over 2 tracks!  If a song is really good, you really don't have to keep pounding it until it looses all its traction.  Sometimes less is more.



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