Monday, 23 February 2009

Brian McKnight - I'll Be Home For Christmas

I usually shy well away from 'holiday music' but have to say I do own the Christmas sets from Alexander O'Neal, Patti Labelle and the Isley Brothers! Well, I've ended up with yet another to my seasonal arsenal – Brian McKnight's “I'll Be Home For Christmas”. For me the album is essential for the opening song and that alone! “The Christmas Song” is a staple part of the festive musical diet – the O'Jays did a splendid version on their last set and Brian does a very Marvin Gaye-styled take here and really creates something very special indeed. You almost forget that this is a Christmas song! What quality and very much in line with the “Let's Get It On” sound. Superb. The warm strings accompany Brian's crooning on the traditional “Let It Snow” and is another very more-ish track. I love Dean Martin's version but this version with Brian's sons Brian McKnight Jr and Nikolas McKnight is excellent.
A new song which is good is “Christmas You And Me” - a wee bit twee BUT it is Christmas after all...and Vince Gill adds his guitar for a bit of effect too, and not at all bad. Brian's jazzier side swings in with the “Most Wonderful Time Of The Year” and the big band flavour is something that the great singer maybe should investigate a bit further. Certainly better than the clonking “R&B” drivel that he's been dabbling with of late anyway. My last favourite on here is the wonderfully atmospheric “Bless This House” featuring Take 6. I ADORE Take 6...their harmonies are spine-tingling and I simply cannot get enough of them. This song is not a cover version of the classic 70s Sid James TV show theme of the show of the same name (pity!!!), but a new composition. If haunting harmonies and seasonal lyrics are your bag then this is really for you. Nice to see Brian release new music more in keeping with his traditional style, and not trying to pander to the gangland generation! I look forward to the man making new music on Razor & Tie in the new year which is more to our mature, adult, soulful and jazzy taste.

Barry Towler