SCI’m thankful for the permission from Isaac Wardell and the folks at Bifrost Arts to post two free songs from their album Salvation Is Created: A Christmas Record From Bifrost Arts. I’m not sure how to describe this album, except to say: this ain’t your Grandma’s Christmas album.

Here’s how Steve McCoy described it in a review:

I love this Christmas album. The overwhelming feel of this CD for me is haunt. It’s dark. Bing Crosby is about to get a beat-down. Don’t let that scare you away! It’s unique and beautiful. . . . This album is about letting the imagination run to the manger scene, and contemplating the theological and practical realities of God made flesh. Sometimes these realities are captured by marionettes in muted colors on a dimly lit stage. Sometimes they are found in the march of wooden soldiers who never show their faces. Sometimes they are expressed in a solemn dance. This is music more inspired by Tim Burton than Frank Capra. It’s the subversion of Christmas as we know it, and it’s wonderfully dark.

Kevin Twit, founder of Indelible Grace Music, also wrote a recent review:

This is an exquisitely beautiful record. The string arrangements are lush and creative. The sonic quality of the recording and the mixing is superb. But it is not a light sappy project at all—Thomas Kincaid and his ilk had nothing to do with this music, and for that we can be thankful. Christmas has a context. Jesus came to save His people from their sins and He came to die. Christmas can never be fully understood, or its joy truly felt, without remembering both the longing that preceded it and the cross that Jesus was born to endure.

This is a record that aches with longing and invites us to take off our shoes and lower our voices to a hush as we behold the wonder that is Christmas. I love the absence of bombast in the fabulous arrangements of Isaac Wardell and Mason Neely, and the way the sound envelops you and draws you in. . . .  These songs, a great mix of traditional songs, more obscure carols, and brand new Christmas music, do not attempt to bowl you over, but work their magic in subtle ways, inviting you to ponder the great mystery of the incarnation. . . .  This record is model of the kind of music Christians should be making, full of deep joy and the heartache of longing.

Jacob Davis says:

This is a dark album, no question. A haunting melancholy permeates the entire piece. This is not an upbeat album glistening with chimes, warm strings, and sleigh bells.  A large percentage of these songs are in a minor key.  The overall atmosphere has a certain loneliness about it.  Perhaps this is a Christmas album like the first Christmas night was, cold and lonesome, but filled with hope.  These song emit a radiant hopefulness in the mist of darkness.  Not unlike our state here on earth.  We are awaiting Christ’s return.  The “already/not yet” tension is in full force.  We are in a fallen world, but living with the hope of the New Creation coming with our Lord.

And here’s part of the review from Relevant Magazine:

Salvation Is Created is one of the most beautiful Christmas albums you could buy this season. It doesn’t manufacture nostalgia or (something much, much more insidious) manufacture a fleeting feeling of “worship.” Instead, it feels organic and authentic—a true expression of people expressing wonder and gratitude at the reality—and yes, the mystery—of Christ’s Incarnation.

Here are a couple of free songs you can download:

Joy Joy!!! (Featuring Devon Sproule and Paul Curreri) [5:15]

Download the mp3 (right-click then “save as”).

Veiled In Darkness (Featuring Matt Bauer and Maeve) [5:19] [audio:http://blogs.thegospelcoalition.org/justintaylor/files/2009/12/09-Veiled-In-Darkness-Feat.-Matt-Bauer-And-Maeve.mp3]

Download the mp3 (right-click then “save as”).

You can read a bit more about Bifrost Arts at this byFaith Magazine profile, or view their Facebook page.

You can download Salvation Is Created for $7.99 and
their first album, Come O Spirit! Anthology Of Hymns And Spiritual Songs Volume 1, for $9.99.