Following the lukewarm response to Sisqo’s second album in 2001, Dru Hill returned with a new member Scola in 2002 for the vastly underpromoted Dru World Order. The group would spend the next eight years touring and eventually add new member Tao for its fourth album InDRUpendence Day this week’s Second Listen Sunday pick.
Second Listen Sunday : A Kenny Lattimore Christmas
R&B crooner Kenny Lattimore had twenty years in the game when his first holiday CD A Kenny Lattimore Christmas, arrived in 2016. Lattimore has one of the natural voices; he can sing anything and sound good. The first time I saw Mr. Lattimore live, he sang opera and wowed the audience with his instrument. That said, I didn’t want this review to focus on his covers of “I’ll Be Home for Christmas,” “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” “The Christmas Song,” and “O Holy Night because he sings them with ease. Instead, I want to focus on the original songs.
One of the best things an R&B artist can do when recording a Christmas album is to use their strengths and put their spin on the yuletide genre. Lattimore works on the project primarily with Nate “Impact” Jolley, Aaron W. Lindsey, Juan “Natural” Najera, and Dra-kkar Wesley. The quadrant of producers appear to know the strength of Lattimore’s register and never dumb down the vocalist for listeners outside his demographic.
Listening to the album’s opening songs, I was tapping my feet and smiling to the infectious “Real Love This Christmas” while “Everybody Love Somebody” quickly found its way onto my Christmas playlist with its flourishes of a holiday jam session. Lattimore takes us to church on “We Want To See You,” and the title alone reminded me of something my late grandfather would always say to me during my time in the Air Force.
One of the most suspiring songs on the project is “Reason to Celebrate.”
The nearly eight-minute bop finds the balladeer experimenting with African-style rhythmic arrangement to significant effect. Hearing the song, I felt it would be right at home in a Christmas musical with Black leads. Lattimore is about spreading joy and positivity in the song, which works. Despite the positivity throughout the entire album, I did have one issue.
I would’ve loved to hear Kenny cover Luther’s “Every Year Every Christmas” or “At Christmas Time” instead of the usual standards; nevertheless, this is a good holiday project overall.
Final Grade: B+
A Kenny Lattimore Christmas is available on all streaming platforms.
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