Prime Cuts: I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day, Let Us Be, Mary Did You Know?/What Child is This
Overall Grade: 3/5
1993 to 2001, Point of Grace (POG) could do no wrong. Every song they touched turned From into a #1 record. In a time when only crossover acts like Amy Grant and Michael W. Smith could score gold and platinum records, POG have 2 platinum and 5 gold albums under their belt. However, from the 2000s, POG have receded from the competition. Instead of reinventing their sound for a new generation, they have retracted to singing AC and country-leaning offerings. Moreover, as they expand to do more speaking and book writing, their record releases get sparser, and the quality of their material has become vanilla.
Sing Noel reflects the latter-day POG. In fact, ardent fans know that this album has been released before in 2017 by Lifeway Christian bookstore. Since it was a niche release, POG have decided to work with Curb Records to re-release this set, hoping for a wider distribution. However, the efforts Curb and POG have invested for this re-release is open to questioning. Other than a new cover and a brand new single "Gloria (The King Has Come)," everything is just a direct transfer. The album title, song sequence, and songs all remain the same.
Sonically, the album is as good as POG come. You get their gorgeous three-part harmony on the sentimental ballad "Amid the Winter's Snow." The ladies' delicate vocals on "Mary Did You Know?/What Child is This" are moving. For those who like some dreamy downtime over Christmas, the strings and piano riffs of "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day" do the job perfectly. Of the 4 originals (out of 11 tracks), "Let Us Be" is the best. With a marching beat, "Let Us Be" is a worshipful call to respond to the Christ-child.
However, there are a few no-nos. Jumping on the current bandwagon where you remix every classic song into a dance anthem, their treatment of "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing" is out of place and embarrassingly tacky. "Gloria (The King Has Come)" is as cliché a as it comes. After being pigeonholed as an AC Christian act since 2001, do we need another non-descript, safe, and unmemorable ballad as this?
POG still sing well. If you like their vocal harmonies, they are still heavenly. Except for "Hark," the songs here are what you expect from an AC act. What is missing is their drive and their passion to make music that matters. Music that speaks to today's culture with messages that sing and sting.