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Fullasoul Spins: Musiq Soulchild - 'A Philly Soul Christmas' : Music Reviews

Fullasoul Spins: Musiq Soulchild - 'A Philly Soul Christmas'

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Fullasoul Spins: Musiq Soulchild - 'A Philly Soul Christmas'

Postby Fullasoul » Mon Nov 10, 2008 10:59 am



Recently, Musiq Soulchild released his first ever christmas album, 'A Philly Soul Christmas'. Now, as much as I normally prefer to leave reviews to 'critics' (ie people who really don't know much at all about music to begin with), the reviews this disc has received since it's release compelled me to write a few words. It would appear that the vast majority of 'critics' who decided to review this disc so far are strict traditionalists...and, admittedly, if you're a traditionalist where your holiday tuneage is concerned, you may not particularly enjoy 'A Philly Soul Christmas'. However, a lot of us buy our Christmas music based not on which tunes have been retooled for the zillionth time, but based on the artist recording them. In truth, when I buy a Christmas CD from Musiq Soulchild, I not only expect it to have Christmas music, but I expect it to be a Musiq Soulchild album. That is where I believe previous critics have missed, and where Musiq has hit the bullseye.

The disc starts off with 'Jingle Bells', and anyone who's ever bought an R&B Christmas album knows that it's not entirely easy to make 'Jingle Bells' sound cool. Indeed, the version here has the same silly-hokey quality that most versions carry...but within the first few seconds, you get a bit of those jazzy vocal arrangements that Musiq fans expect, and you're drawn in anyways. 'Hark! The Herald Angels Sing!' follows, and is kicked off by a spoken intro set to music that's got a clear P-Funk quality to it. 'O Come All Ye Faithful' starts off with a fairly traditional arrangement, but quickly builds into a truly fantastic rendition carried by Musiq's soulful vocals. Those soulful vocals, however, aren't enough to save the overbusy arrangement on 'Deck The Halls'. 'O Holy Night' is a tricky one to comment on. Since I'm today wearing the 'reviewer' hat, I have to say that setting a song like this to a reggae arrangement was a risky yet rewarding decision. Personally, what I've always loved about 'O Holy Night' is it's dynamics. It's intended to start calm and build up to a whirlwind of pure emotion, yet reggae by nature is meant to 'rock steady'. Even still, I can't tell you it doesn't work (it really does), but it does sacrifice what's best about the original arrangement. 'O Christmas Tree' is a fairly standard R&B take, but really brings life in it's closing moments with a jazzy breakdown chant. 'The First Noel' closes the set, and while the musical arrangement is pretty straight forward, Musiq comes with a really fresh vocal arrangement that makes it more than worthy.

It's unfortunate that Joe Blow at the Anywhere Chronicle feels that our classic Christmas joints can't benefit from a modern tweak. We are, after all, living in a time of change...and while not every risk Musiq takes on this set is spot on, it's well deserving of a place in any R&B fan's Christmas collection.
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