Musiq Soulchild, A PhillySoul Christmas
Picture of Derrick Dunn

Derrick Dunn

Second Listen Sunday: Musiq Soulchild, A PhillySoul Christmas

Musiq Soulchild was basking in the success of “If U Leave,” the second, fifth studio album OnMyRadio when he quietly released the Christmas EP, A Philly Soul Christmas, in the fall of 2008. Often in the realm of R&B, Christmas EPs can come across as a cash grab or label obligation. 

I first discovered Musiq’s Christmas EP while shopping at Target one day, and looking at the back of the album for song titles was surprised that the entire EP was traditional Christmas songs. By this time, Musiq had a solid career. In addition to having a solid pen game, he had worked with songwriters such as Eric Roberson, Ne-Yo, and Warryn Campbell. 

Initially, I gave the album the side eye because, in the past, singers such as Luther Vandross and Alexander O’Neal successfully crafted Christmas albums that sounded modern with only a few covers. Thankfully Musiq brings his Neo Soul vibes to the project. A Philly Soul Christmas begins with “Jingle Bells,” and I could easily hear the song in a Christmas Gospel play.

The laid-back and groovy “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” is interspersed with announcer-style vocals. “O Come All Ye Faithful” is closest to the traditional arrangement and gives the crooner a chance to show off his vocals. The song starts as a hymnal organ number before slowly adding percussion and other instruments as it progresses. 

“Deck The Halls” features ambitious drum arrangements with gently tinkling bells and a jazzy/Neo Soul vibe, but the next track may upset purists. “O Holy Night” has always had the distinction of being somber and rising to majestic proportions. Musiq’s version of the songs includes a languid reggae groove. Reading this, I bet you think it shouldn’t work, but it does. “O Christmas Tree” is another jazzy/Neo Soul arrangement that ends with a fire breakdown. A smooth take on “The First Noel” closes out the album.

While I would’ve loved to hear Musiq try his hand at some R&B Christmas songs from the legends, this is a good project for a one-time listen.

 

Final Grade: B

A Philly Soul Christmas is available on all streaming platforms.

Movie Clappers

More reviews to explorer

Second Listen Sunday: Jaheim, Ghetto Classics

Jaheim, a New Jersey-based singer, is currently on “The Love Hard Tour” after a significant break from the music scene. This week, for our Second Listen Sunday, I wanted to revisit his highly anticipated third album, “Ghetto Classics,” released on February 13, 2006. It had been four years since the release of Jaheim’s second album, and while they couldn’t see him vocally, younger singers like Omarion and Chris Brown were the current rage in R&B.

Slow Jam Saturday: Keyshia Cole, I Should Have Cheated

The Princess of Hip Hop Soul, Mrs. Keyshia Cole, is currently headlining the “The Love Hard Tour” with fellow R&B acts Trey Songz, Jahiem, and K. Michelle. So, in that regard, I felt it was only fitting to go back to 2005 and revisit the third single, “I Should Have Cheated,” from her debut album, “The Way It Is,” for this week’s Slow Jam Saturday.

Second Listen Sunday: The Weekend, Kiss Land

For this week’s Second Listen Sunday, I embarked on a musical journey to the Land of Maple Syrup, a nickname for Canada due to its significant maple syrup production. I revisited a pivotal moment in The Weeknd’s career with his major label debut, ‘Kiss Land.’ This album marked a significant transition for The Weeknd, following the success of his 2011 mixtapes’ House of Balloons,’ ‘Thursday,’ and ‘Echoes of Silence,’ and the subsequent compilation album ‘Trilogy.’ ‘Kiss Land’ was his first studio album, a testament to his growth and evolution as an artist, and it was released on September 10, 2013.

Facebook
Twitter
LinkedIn