Behold, Plumb’s first Christmas release, colors a little outside the lines.

Label: Plumb Music
Length: 5 songs/16 minutes

Behold, Plumb’s first ever Christmas release is a gift for those who enjoy traditional and religious songs. She also released It’s Christmas Time EP for some pop/holiday fun, which is not part of this review.

Part of my intrigue with Behold is the variation not only in the music styles but in the production within the five songs.

It begins with “O Holy Night,” which starts softly with gentle piano playing and singing. Quiet programmed percussion in the background gives this a more modern feel.

Chains shall he break, for the slave is our brother,
And in his name all oppression shall cease

Hearing the above, made me wonder if this has a connection to the Civil War conflict. I discovered that this is the work of Adolphe Adam, a French composer, in 1847. The music was originally part of a French poem. The lines predate the Civil War, but apply to all who have ever been in servitude, whether literal or spiritual. One day this reality will be pervasive when God makes everything right. Slavery and oppression of every kind will be forever abolished.

Light orchestration comes in as the vocal intensity builds to a crescendo. It’s an elegant rendition of a powerful song.

Lacking liner notes, my guess is that the first sounds I hear on “The Christmas Song” are from a xylophone. Though the pairing may seem ill-suited, it actually blends well with the lounge style heard here. What’s striking is the guitar solo, which departs from the jazz sound. The production makes it unusual but not unwelcome.

“‘Behold’ is the angel speaking to us,” Plumb explains in a video, “telling us what you have been anticipating has come. Here is your king.” Advent means to anticipate. This season is about celebrating the fulfillment of Christ’s coming.

The Jewish people were looking for a deliverer, something along the lines of a fearless warrior or mighty king. But God gave a baby, “born in a barn, who was all about love, and that’s exactly what we needed.”

Plumb says it underscores how anticipation can lead to disappointment when expectations are not met. But just as God gave what was truly needed in the form of a child, He can be trusted to provide what is necessary.

When the answers don’t come easily
And when they’re not what we expect
Help us to trust you even then

In our darkest night
Be the brightest light

The song starts with rapid alternating keyboard notes punctuated by piano. It feels wintry. Strings begin a delicate accent. Initially, the percussion is soft. On the second stanza creative programmed percussion brings additional heft. Electric guitar adds subtle texture. It’s a wonder-filled song that could rightly be the highlight of a performance. I appreciate artists like Plumb, who bring us something new each season.

It’s not that I don’t appreciate the classics. Plumb breathes life into “My Favorite Things” with just orchestra backing. The song took on new meaning for me one Christmas while working late in a retail store. That encouragement to remember my favorite things brought me a little cheer. The apostle Paul takes it further in Philippians 4:8, where he encourages thinking about what is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent and whatever is worthy of praise. So “when the dog bites, when the bee stings, when I’m feeling sad,” focusing on our blessings, which ultimately come from God can change our outlook. Appreciate Plumb covering a classic that isn’t often remade.

“Silent Night/Away in a Manger” is keyboard-driven and accounts for almost all of the instrumentation in this quiet, relaxed version. The artist who records as Young Oceans provides a male harmony vocal. It’s a lovely ending for a fine release.

Michael Dalton