For our final Christmas album for this year, we take a look at Phil Keaggy’s first Christmas album, and his third instrumental reviewed on this blog: Majesty and Wonder.
As to be expected, Phil gives stellar acoustic and electric performances with (mostly) traditional Christmas songs, and shows his ever-eclectic style by being accompanied not by a band, but by The London Festival Orchestra.
The orchestra nicely adds richness to Phil’s playing, and doesn’t overshadow his guitar. In some songs, such as “Good Christian Men Rejoice,” Phil is not accompanied by a full orchestra. And like that song, the orchestral album isn’t completely classical, either. Some songs are classical-esque, such as “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel,” “The First Noel” and “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring.” While in other songs, such as “For Hearth and Home” and “Do You Hear What I Hear?” Phil adds his own personal artistic flavor, knowing not to add too much ‘spice’ to the songs on this particular project.
Phil also adds his personal touch with his three original “Nativity Suite” compositions; the third, “Flight to Egypt,” is an adventurous song, by which the orchestration gives it an almost soundtrack-esque quality. It does break the mood a little, but longtime Phil fans might be slightly disappointed if there wasn’t some energy to this project.
All in all, it’s a must-have for any Phil fan, and an excellent soundtrack to the Christmas season.