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Better when she reins it in

It's Christmas
It's Christmas
By Ledisi

Verve: 2008

This review first appeared in Turbula in December 2008.

Possessed of as large a voice as one could hope for, R&B singer Ledisi has turned out a mostly charming Christmas album that at times veers too widely away from the holiday sound. Bending her voice on "Silent Night" may be technically impressive, but it distracts from the song itself. And on "Children Go Where I Send Thee," the gospel arrangement overwhelms any Christmas sound.

Yet when Ledisi reins in the arrangements and lets the focus fall firmly on her powerhouse singing, as on "What a Wonderful World" or her duet with bluesman Keb' Mo', "Please Come Home for Christmas," the results are absolutely superb.

Of her own four contributions of Christmas songs, "It's Christmas" does the best job of capturing the spirit of the winter holiday season.

There are some wonderful moments here, and they outnumber those that fall flat, so fans of Ledisi or contemporary R&B are likely to enjoy.