Acoustic guitar is a sweet axe for a Christmas collection, projecting a fitting air of intimacy and warmth. “Christmas Celebration!” is both of those things, in spades.
“Christmas Celebration!” covers 15 traditional holiday classics, Keith Andrew Grim’s acoustic guitar arrangements creating a warm family atmosphere. You can picture a roaring fire in the background; it’s that kind of album, perfect as a holiday backdrop or for your personal seasonal devotions.
I enjoyed “Christmas Celebration!” most when the focus is on Grim’s nimble finger-picking. Opener “Joy to the World” is a lovely, gentle album highlight, very soothing. With the next track, “O Come, O Come” Grim begins to add the synthesizer, and the tone changes a bit. The album moves forward from this point, alternating back and forth between focus on first the guitar, then the synth. Some tracks feature both, including the interesting rendition of “What Child Is This,” opening with the synth, before moving into a lush arrangement of both. “O Come, All Ye Faithful” is synth only, and “Good Christian Men” features more programming, this time from guest artist John Massa. I’d have to say I found the album most enjoyable when the focus is simply on Grim’s agile guitar work.
A standout track has to be “O Holy Night,” a simple but powerful arrangement, moving in its straightforwardness, Grim’s tender approach adding an air of reverence. “Christmas Celebration!” comes across to me as a bit uneven, due to Grim’s fluctuating focus on instrumentation. I think his talent on the guitar deserves the full focus, and look forward eagerly to his next celebration.