Mini-Review: John Legend – A Legendary Christmas

John Legend

A Legendary Christmas

Label: Columbia Records

Release Date: October 26th 2018 (Standard), November 8th 2019 (Deluxe) (Amazon mp3/iTunes)

Track Listing:

  1. What Christmas Means To Me (feat. Stevie Wonder)
  2. Bring Me Love
  3. This Christmas (DELUXE)
  4. My Favourite Things (DELUXE)
  5. Baby It’s Cold Outside (feat. Kelly Clarkson) (DELUXE)
  6. Christmas In New Orleans (DELUXE)
  7. Silver Bells
  8. Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas (feat. Esperanza Spalding)
  9. No Place Like Home
  10. Merry Christmas Baby / Give Love On Christmas Day
  11. Christmas Time Is Here
  12. By Christmas Eve
  13. Purple Snowflakes
  14. The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire)
  15. Please Come Home For Christmas
  16. Wrap Me Up In Your Love
  17. Waiting For Christmas
  18. Merry Merry Christmas

Initial thoughts: Way, way too long in terms of album length and number of tracks, although the smooth jazz moments and the soulful voice of JL is more than enough to make up for the 64-minute duration.

Reasons to listen: 6 originals, what more can I say? Also, the passion is evident here. Which other artist brings more passion to his work other than John? Let me know cause I’ll be waiting!

Reasons to buy: 18 tracks, with 3 collaborations, and plenty of fan favourites! Also, the liner notes give us an intimate inside look into Christmas with the Legends, as we are glimpsed a few photos into their private family life, as well as a heartfelt one page message on the making of the album and what Christmas means to John. This reminds us that they may be celebrities but they’re just people like us!

Reasons to skip: No reasons at all!

No. of carols: 12

No. of originals: 6

No of guest artists: 3 (Stevie Wonder on track #1, Kelly Clarkson on track #5 and Esperanza Spalding on track #8)

Does it have heart?: To the max! Emotion, honesty, vulnerability and hopefulness galore!

Does it have a Christmas-y atmosphere?: Possibly… I mean, this sounds like a solid Christmas album, by any standards. But to me it feels like a big band/jazz album first and foremost. Much more emphasis on the 20’s/30’s swinging jazz sound as opposed to the bells and whistles and children’s choirs that are synonymous with Christmas music. The only real ‘Christmas-y’ sound is on “Silver Bells”!

Uniqueness?: Big band and jazz influenced? Check! Reminding us all of Nat King Cole, I reckon, so not that unique in that regard. But in terms of uniqueness this side of the millennium, I’d say very, very unique!

Christmas message: Minimal. Non-existent on the spiritual message. Even though John Legend may not believe in the story of Jesus right now, he did indeed grow up in the church, so he’s intimately familiar with the Christmas message. But there’s a lot of holiday traditional songs here. Not that they’re bad- it’s just that I hoped that perhaps a song or two like O Holy Night or Hark! The Herald Angels Sing would’ve made it onto the track list!

Closing thoughts: For the young Christian who wants to know more about the story of Jesus, this album isn’t for you. But if you want a fun, enjoyable, moving holiday album to listen to this Christmas while you are wrapping presents for that one relative that is very annoying, then this light, bright and positive collection of seasonal tunes is for you!

3 songs to listen to: Wrap Me In Your Love, By Christmas Eve, Christmas In New Orleans

Overall rating: 4.5/5

Yes/no; why/why not?: Buy the album pronto! You’ll thank me later! That’s all!

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