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Brian McKnight - 'I'll Be Home for Christmas'

Soulful & Spiritual

About.com Rating 4 Star Rating


Brian McKnight - 'I'll Be Home for Christmas'
Plenty of popular R&B artists have released holiday albums over the years; a partial list of them reads like a who's who of the music business: Aretha Franklin, The Isley Brothers, Patti LaBelle, Boyz II Men, Destiny's Child and many, many more. It almost seems like recording a Christmas album is a mandatory career step. Brian McKnight's latest holiday release, I'll Be Home for Christmas, which was released in the U.S. on Oct. 7, 2008, isn't his first Christmas album, but it's undoubtedly one of the best that's come out in a long while. It's romantic, charming, fun, occasionally whimsical and most of all, spiritual.

Romantic, Charming

The album's highlight is arguably Brian's version of the traditional holiday classic "The Christmas Song." Not only does he update the song's vocals and music for a modern audience, but toward the end of it, he manages to flip the song entirely on its head via some typical sexy B. McKnight banter. Another winner is the title track, which stays fairly true to the original version, only with a little more soulful vocals.

But although a few songs deserve to be singled out for their high entertainment factor, this is the rare album that actually has zero bad songs on it. From top to bottom, song one to song 12, this is a solid album that the whole family can enjoy. One of the more impressive things about the album is that Brian collaborates with a few unexpected partners on songs, and each of them works. For instance, Country artist Vince Gill sounds right at home on "Christmas You and Me," a new song written by McKnight for this album. And Spanish-language singer Noel Schajris seamlessly duets with McKnight on a new version of "Silent Night." Other guests, including pop vocal singer Josh Groban and Gospel group Take 6 also turn in solid performances.

The true star though, is McKnight himself, who has the perfect vocal style for this type of project: soft, tender and loving, but with the ability to come across strong, as he does on another original track, "Who Would Have Thought," a song about falling in love on Christmas Day, which was co-written by McKnight. This album soars on many levels and has a deep, soulful spirituality that's perfect for the holiday season.

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