Steve Bell’s 17th album is Keening for the Dawn: Christmastide.

Steve Bell gives a different Christmas perspective

  • December 22, 2012

In Keening for the Dawn: Christmastide, Steve Bell combines the Christmas theme with his folksy sound and a soft country touch.

This is Bell's 17th album and is far from the usual Christmas jingles. All 11 songs possess a sound that is less of a holly-jolly sentiment and more of Bell's joyful contemplation on the birth of Christ, the shining light cutting through the darkness.

Bell's vocals don't always carry the gravitas that his sometimes heavy lyrics call for, but his expert acoustic guitar beckons the listener beyond words.

Collins wants people to experience the love of God that so often eludes us.

A two-time Juno Award winner, Bell takes the risk of including spoken-word poetry within some of the songs on this album. Read by English poet Michael Guite, who Bell also collaborated with on lyrics, the spoken word may seem odd, but becomes a welcome and balancing contrast to Bell’s light melodies.

Breakout songs include "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel," a warm rendition of the traditional song with a spoken word twist, and "Refugee" for its combined musicality and storytelling of Jesus' burden willingly taken up for love of mankind.

"We think of Him as safe beneath the steeple, or cozy in a crib beside the font," sings Bell in "Refugee." "But He is with a million displaced people, on the long road of weariness and want."

While gathering around the tree this year, Keening for the Dawn: Chrismastide is for those who prefer calming rhythms over the traditional fire and crackle Christmas songs.

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