The Heart of Christmas
Matthew West’s The Heart of Christmas offers a holiday-themed assortment of seasonal romantic ballads, classic nativity songs, jazzy numbers, and acoustic folk-country tunes. His warm, supple voice easily applies itself to a cozy, piano-centered version of “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” and a lightly swinging take on “Jingle Bells.” “Silent Night” and “O, Holy Night” are sung with expressive reverence, while “O Come All Ye Faithful” comes decked out in a vibrant gospel arrangement. West’s original tunes are a high point, ranging from the hope-filled “Give This Christmas Away” (a duet with Amy Grant previously included on the 2008 edition of Something to Say) to the buoyant ‘50s-style rocker “Come on, Christmas” and the gently twanging “Leaving Heaven” (featuring Vince Gill on vocals). Saving the most moving song for the end, West recounts a real-life story of holiday compassion in “One Last Christmas,” bringing this well-rounded collection to an uplifting close.