Album review: 'A Philly Soul Christmas,' by Musiq Soulchild

Patrick Varine

When it comes to Christmas music, I’m a strict traditionalist – I don’t need songs that are already great being reinterpreted or, worse, just set to a corny beat and some keyboards.

So even though I really like Musiq Soulchild, "A Philly Soul Christmas" is a hard sell. Although he works up some tasty neo-soul grooves, the melodies of traditionals like “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” and “O Christmas Tree” just don’t quite work as modern R&B music.

But you’ll undoubtedly hear it in plenty of Old Navys and Hollisters throughout the holiday season, and if they happen to play the reggae cover of “O Holy Night,” you’re actually in good shape.

It’s not that Musiq’s interpretations aren’t pleasant. As modern Christmas cover albums go, I’ll definitely take it over Michael McDonald and Kenny G. His traditional take on "The First Noel" and "O Come All Ye Faithful" are just as good as anyone's.

But when it comes to the faux-drum-and-bass version of "Deck the Halls" it’s like the classic-rock cover of “Also Sprach Zarathustra”: Interesting, maybe even good, but still kind of corny.

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