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  • Jonathan Widran

CAMILLE NELSON, Acoustic Christmas

With apologies to George Lucas, a long musical time ago in a galaxy seemingly far, far away from the present one we’re living in – August 2019, to be exact – I penned a highly enthusiastic review of Camille Nelson’s Sacred Lullabies, a gentle and beautiful album of Christian, LDS and secular songs that the award winning singer/songwriter recorded to bring kids and adults alike a sense of comfort and calm.

Although I like to believe those with artistic sensibilities, especially those in the sacred music and new age realms are somehow so in touch with the divine that they can sense a universal need for what they are creating in advance, it’s likely that Camille had no idea just how much more valuable those lush lilting songs would be for those listening throughout this year.

Likewise, the quote I included from her resonates even more considering everything that has happened since she release that collection: “We live in a world where there is so much turmoil and so many disappointments that we tend to become numb and forget how to feel things deeply. My whole goal in writing, recording and performing music is to get people to feel, bringing them closer to God through thoughts, prayers and meditation while helping them discover their purpose on earth.”

With equal portions of magical glittery fairy dust, soothing soulfulness, charming vocals and organic instrumentation and production, Camille’s new collection Acoustic Christmas is the exquisite, melodically and rhythmically captivating ting seasonal equivalent to Sacred Lullabies. While so many holiday offerings engage in over the top production and (silver) bells and whistles, Camille still believes “less is more” – and the results is a remarkably intimate, easy flowing vocal and instrumental set. From “O Come All Ye Faithful” and “Joy to the World” through “Silent Night,” she infuses her solo instrumental renditions with an intricate swirl of strum and sparkle, bringing deeper amounts of love, emotion and sacred reverence than we hear in most typical versions.

Beyond Camille’s detailed, pin drop playing and sonic perfection on guitar, there are two salient features of the collection worth noting. First, as with Sacred Lullabies, complementing her thoughtful spins on very familiar Christmas tunes (including the aforementioned tracks, “Little Drummer Boy” and “O Holy Night”) are several just as lovely renditions of much lesser known and recorded traditional hymns, including “Wexford Carol,” “Once in Royal David’s City” and “More Holiness Give Me” – the latter featuring the stunning harmonies of Kimberly Knighton and Britney Holman, who also added their vocal grace to the lullabies album.

This is one of several transcendent vocal pieces that add depth and dimension to Camille’s foundational acoustic guitar. The others are “Little Drummer Boy” (featuring the towering, increasingly powerful R&B flavored vocals of Yahosh Bonner), “Still Still Still” (a trio gem sung by Knighton, Holman and Cardin McKinney, collectively known as KORA) and “O Holy Night,” a guitar-vocal duet featuring Camille with Marj Desius, whose dual English-French approach lends extra reverence and transcendence to one of the church’s most cherished hymns.

Considering all we have been through collectively since last Christmas, Camille Nelson’s Acoustic Christmas is not just something nice to put on behind your (socially distanced) holiday gatherings. It should be considered essential listening, a breath of musical fresh air which allows us to do something we’ve been waiting all year for: exhale and fall in love with the holidays once again.

Listen to Acoustic Christmas here:

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