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John Legend-A Legendary Christmas

Posted by Kat Cullen on 2018/12/17

The album artwork itself should be a good indication of what John Legend has wrapped up this Holiday season with his first ever Christmas album.  In a Rockwellian style imagery and a near imitation of Bing Crosby’s White Christmas cover, Legend delivers a an old school sound that is soulful, elegant, sophisticated and musical conduit to those joys of Christmas past.

 

A Legendary Christmas is executively produced by Raphael Saddiq, which is important to note as he has been the standard bearer for the ‘throwback’ RnB sound since his days as a member of Tony!Toni!Tone! Saddiq’s passion for the vintage sound provides lush string and horn arrangement on the 8 covers of Christmas classics, and 6 original songs that interweaves Motown, RnB, big band, blues and jazz.

 

Among the original compositions, Bring Me Love is a prime example of funky, spirited Motown era nostalgia. And Motown legend himself Stevie Wonder provides the harmonica on Legend’s rendition of What Christmas Means To Me, made famous by Wonder on his 1967 album Someday At Christmas.  Legend and multi-Grammy winning jazz singer Esperanza Spalding sparkle brightly on Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas, produced with a classic jazz sound of rich string and horn backing.

 

Legend’s interpretation of the Holiday staple Silver Bells is remarkable, with a definitive 70’s soul vibe, accented by smooth backup vocals, retro flutes, string and horns on his punchy version that includes some additional ad-libbed lyrics.  Legend infuses some blues and swing on a spirited rendition of the the standard Merry Christmas Baby/Give Love On Christmas Day, the latter portion of the medley being a tribute to the Jackson 5 from the family act’s 1970 Christmas album on the Motown label. On what’s another Legend original, it’s Christmas down in the Big Easy on Merry Merry Christmas, with New Orleans jazz brass and swagger.

 

Paying homage to some of the greatest Holiday song writers ever, including Mel Torme, Vince Guaraldi, Lee Mendelson, Clarence Pauling and others, while presenting his co-written originals, A Legendary Christmas is what Holiday memories are made of. And with Saddiq’s production and arrangement, the album is pure nostalgic magic that celebrates the sound of many Christmases past. Fans were treated to a special roll out of the album on this season’s NBC television special A Legendary Christmas With John And Chrissy, and the accompany tour that brought Legend to the Sony Centre in Toronto.

 

And since Christmas is a time for reminiscing and reflection, A Legendary Christmas is a joyful complement for rekindling nostalgic memories with a sound that is an instant classic.

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