Kim Walker-Smith is best recognized as a worship leader for Jesus Culture, the movement stemming from Bethel Church in Redding, California. Her distinctive and powerful vocals have established her as a standout vocalist among the many worship bands making their way up the CCM and secular charts. Contributing to 13 of Jesus Culture’s recordings, as well as releasing two of her own solo albums, the singer has helped bring a fresh sound to Christian music and churches around the globe. With the release of her 2014 holiday album titled When Christmas Comes, Walker-Smith expands her repertoire, inviting listeners to experience the beauty and wonder of the holiday season with her.
Opening with an original tune, “Tell Me The Story of Jesus” is a simple and elegant track that highlights Walker-Smith’s faith and the significance of Christmas for the singer. A stripped-back acoustic track, this song contains the warm tones of a traditional carol and will ready you for the classic Christmas tunes to follow.
“Silent Night” is a favorite for many of us, and Walker-Smith delivers a moving rendition. The use of chimes, light piano and drums modernises the song enough to give it a new taste, but still harks back to the traditional carol. This instrumentation plays as significant a role in the song as her vocals, and they balance each other well.
“Angels We Have Heard On High” follows, and Kim’s powerful tones drive the song, bringing new passion to a well-known carol. Adding a touch of fun and cheek to the album, “It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas,” introduces hints of electric guitar and brings a contemporary flavour to the traditional introduction of the album. “I’ll Be Home For Christmas,” then accentuates the depth of Walker-Smith’s voice, and enables you to feel the warmth of the fireplace. In a bold move, the singer shows off her vocal ability through her runs in and around the melody. There is wisdom in how this is used though, and instead of being a vocal-heavy track it instead adds a complexity to the tune.
Fans of classic Christmas carols will love “The First Noel,” as Walker-Smith gives us a moving version helped by an orchestra. Following on with “Away In A Manger”, a piano-based introduction gives the carol a flavour similar to that of a lullaby. Sweet and lovely, this track perfectly highlight’s the upcoming birth of Kim’s second child.
“Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” allows the singer’s vocal ability to shine through. The natural rise and fall of the melody highlights Walker-Smith’s vocal control and shows she has the capacity to deliver songs at the same level as some of the top ladies in pop today. A funky percussion section then sits behind, “Let It Snow,” and gives the album a lightness and carefree vibe not previously shown.
“O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” brings an ethereal tone to the album, followed by stunning version of “O Come All Ye Faithful,” which highlights her roots as a worship leader. “O Holy Night” is a simple and graceful re-telling of the nativity story, while Walker-Smith’s version of “Carol of the Bells” gives us a cool and dramatic taste of what this singer is capable of in front of an orchestra.
A bluesy tone comes out in “Winter Wonderland,” and we return to a laid back vibe for the fun carol. “Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer” reminds us of the childlike wonder we feel during the holidays, and “White Christmas” is a delightfully soulful take on a classic. Finishing with, “The Christmas Song,” we are given the opportunity to hear Walker-Smith sing a traditional tune that allows her vocals to soar.