CD Review: He Came (The Gospel of Christmas) by the Boggs Family

CD Review: He Came (The Gospel of Christmas) by the Boggs Family December 23, 2013

Because I have a special treat planned for each of the twelve days of Christmas (!) to come, I wanted to make sure this review went up before the Christmas season was wearing off for everyone. So I’ve decided to bump Monday Morning Humor for the day and give you a look at this worshipful Christmas offering from Davy, Kelly and Odie Boggs. Their live album Havin’ Church received critical praise from both me and Musicscribe. He Came is their first Christmas album.

This CD consists of six vocal tracks, two piano-focused instrumentals by Kelly, and a 17-minute sermon from Davy. In the liner notes, he explains that they included the sermon in the tradition of old-time gospel LPs, which often incorporated spoken tracks with the songs. It’s a classic bit of straight-up, Pentecostal tent-revival preaching that may not be to everyone’s taste but fits very well in the context of the album. Could it have been shorter, thereby saving room for a couple more songs? Perhaps, but then the length of the sermon is part of its charm.

The songs are carefully chosen and arranged with a purpose for a true album experience. For the most part, they are original tunes focused on the theme of expectation. The anticipation builds to a climax with the sermon, which presents the entire salvation story, and then the album closes with the Squire Parsons tune “He Came to Me.” Although not originally a Christmas song, it’s a wonderful choice, movingly sung. The family’s own composition “Until He Came” is a musical and lyrical highlight. I would love to hear a group like the Collingsworth Family pick it up, as it deserves wider exposure.

The production is tasteful and simple, featuring only piano, drums and bass guitar. The tight, jazzy instrumental “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” is worth the price of the album alone, at moments recalling bands like the Vince Guaraldi Trio. It should be noted here that Kelly is a rare talent. What she lacks in flash and flair, she amply makes up for in natural ability and an ear for what sounds fresh, yet feels right. Her musicianship is the glue that holds the group together and makes them stand out among other regional artists.

Although the Boggses are not exceptional soloists, they have a pure, country-tinged family blend in the vein of a group like the Isaacs. This may not be coincidental, as Ben Isaacs is both Davy’s cousin and their producer. As with the live project, it’s refreshing to hear a group who doesn’t sound pitch-perfect, yet still has something to offer vocally. Their sound is rough around the edges, but it’s beautiful in its own humble, unspoiled way.

He Came is unlike any Christmas project I’ve ever heard. It’s a concept album with a clear focus that achieves its goals with minimal wasted space while eschewing nearly all standards, both sacred and secular. It does deliver less music than a comparably priced album of the same length, but it’s a breath of originality in an area where many artists phone it in. For that reason alone, it’s worth checking out. You can listen to samples and purchase it here.

Review copy provided. A positive review was not required.

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  • Thank you very much for your kindness and honesty. You were more generous than we deserve.
    You really “get” what we are trying to do and I appreciate that as much as anything. I want to reach as many folks as I can with the Gospel of Christmas. Thank you for seeing that.
    Thank you as well for your very kind words for my dear wife, Kelly Jo. Her talent, hard work and versatility keep us on the road, no doubt about it.
    Thanks again,

  • Deborah

    I have not had the pleasure of hearing this new Christmas CD, but seeing and hearing this family in person is a blessing beyond measure. I’m always taken with Kelly Jo’s talent, vocal and instrumental. They have that true “family” harmony that you see so many times in Southern Gospel, that blends so well. But the most wonderful thing about this family is this: They know and live what they say and sing. Jesus Christ, born of a virgin one holy night, crucified and in three days risen from the grave for one purpose … to offer salvation to a lost world. That is their message, that is their song, that is what their days, months and years consist of….getting The Message out in song and Word and doing it so humbly yet so beautifully. God bless them!

  • You’re welcome Davy! Merry Christmas!

  • Brenda Galiher

    Great Album, will be a timeless treasure. Thank-you for the review. Sometimes I know what I like but not sure why, your analysis is pitch perfect.
    Enjoy your insight. Looking for more great projects from this talented family.