X-mas Does Come Early These Days…
Society and it’s consumerism are really funny to me, especially during the holidays. As I was driving home from work tonight, I noticed that there were ALREADY Christmas decorations adorning light poles. Once I arrived home and turned on the T.V., I was summarily attacked by a Lay-A-Way commercial from K-Mart, of all stores.
Ok, I know that this has been happening since most of us were kids but it seems like every year the holidays get pushed further and further together, creating a huge conglomerate Uber-Holiday hell-bent on taking all the joy, surprise, anticipation, good cheer, etc out of the real reason for the season.
It’s like we go straight from Halloween into a rushed and mutated version of Thanksgiving, that only really slows down on the actual Turkey Day, just to careen head first into the type of Christmas that Charlie Brown and the rest of the Peanuts gang would surely cringe at and lets not even talk about our looked/glossed over Americanized version of Kwanzaa.
Maybe it’s the high-tech society we live in now that makes it seem this way. We already barely leave our houses, go shopping or sit down to watch a real TV due to it.
Why would these revered and sacred holiday’s be immune to the phenomenon as well. I know you’re wondering where I’m going with this right? “Square, isn’t this a MUSIC blog?” you’re asking yourself as you read the above rant. True it is and I’m going there to say this, I just recently realized that it is affecting the music industry as well. It may have slipped by your radar as well, as probably the last notable Christmas album I paid any attention to was “A LaFace Family Christmas” back in ‘93 with the classic “Sleigh Ride” cover by TLC who, at the time, were aggressively making themselves a household name. Ok, that album and Boyz II Men‘s “Christmas Interpretations” featuring the song I must hear at least once to feel like it truly is X-mas, “Let It Snow“. That was the album that began my journey towards straying away from tried and true X-mas music into more of the non-traditional stylings of R&B & Soul artists, (think “What Do The Lonely Do At Christmas” by The Emotions or This Christmas by Donny Hathaway), that cut a Holiday album as part of their contract fulfillment.
I started to wait on making this post until closer to the holidays and I actually listened to the entire album but it’s LEDISI!! So scratch that idea. I couldn’t wait to check it out. Good music is what it is to me, no matter what time or season. I got turned on to her sound about the same time most people did last year via Steve Harvey. I happened to be doing my research on Amazon.com for new and unreleased albums to see if I could obtain a copy from any of my “various” sites. I happened to see her name and the album title. Opened another tab to Google for a little more “research” when voilà ! I found the album and immediate downloaded it. I forgot I had it until Steve started promoting her heavily and the “Alright” single got some heavy rotation. So I burned it to a disc and immediately fell in love. After that, I had to have more.
So I “researched” again and found that Ledisi has been on the music scene for a good while. In fact “Lost and Found” is not her first album as she has three albums prior to it. Continuing the research, I managed to get most of the songs from those three and can honesty say that she is the truth!
Matter of fact to quote Samuel L. Jackson as “Mister Señor Love Daddy” from Spike Lee’s Do The Right Thing, “And that’s the double-truth, Ruth!”
Don’t believe? Try this jazz cover/re-incarnation she does of a Nat King Cole classic and yes I am about to post both songs for comparison, just because I just happen to have a few NKC songs on the Hard Drive.
Nat King Cole – “Autumn Leaves“:
Ledisi – “Autumn Leaves“:
Her remake is just as beautiful as NKC’s is but has a certain polish and flair that is a staple in all of her work and “It’s Christmas” follows suite. On the disc you will find a good range of holiday classics we all grew up listening to, from the Jackson 5 ode “Give Love on Christmas Day” to the Louis ” Satchmo” Armstrong opus “What A Wonderful World“. But we are speaking about Ledisi Anibade Young, who lives up to the Yoruba definition of her first name “to bring forth” (thanks Wikipedia). She does just that, bringing forth new life into these standards, with new re-workings of stanzas and re-structuring of melodies, which ALL work for each and every song because you have never heard “Silent Night” like this before:
Ledisi – “Silent Night“:
The 12 track album isn’t just about re-doing the classics. There are original songs to enjoy also, like the title song, which comes across so smooth and relaxing with an emphasis on the Ella Fitzgerald-esque scatting Ledisi has become so known for, that you instantly want to hit repeat and listen again.
Ledisi – “It’s Christmas“:
All told, this may be the quintessential Christmas album for those bored with the same old, same old. I plan to throw it on at my company X-Mas party this year during the catered meal. I have a feeling it won’t disappoint as it’s mellow enough for light banter, but jazzy enough to make someone ask who it is and can they get a copy. So there it is, a review about an album for a holiday that has yet to arrive but as I listen to more of it while I type, I can’t help but smile and let Ledisi make me not care about the timing. It’s Christmas and it’s that good.
You know I can’t leave well enough alone, so here are the downloads for all the X-Mas soul standards that were mentioned in this post.
Download: SoulReservoir X-Mas Review.zip
Also two streams of the LP so you can juslisen:
Ledisi – “It’s Christmas” 1 – 6:
Ledisi – “It’s Christmas” 7 – 12: