Those most familiar with the ex-wife of the late Notorious B.I.G. may frown on a Christmas album, but Faith Evans' A Faithful Christmas should not be discounted. Her second Capitol Records offering this year offers a wide range of material, including a few hip-hop-laced Christmas songs. Her song choices, the majority of them well-loved Christmas standards, allow us to hear her oft-overlooked but substantial voice. Although it's one that will stand the test of time, few would know it. Maybe A Faithful Christmas will correct that.
Here Evans excels with her rendition of "Soulful Christmas." While her James Brown imitation is excellent, her ability to remain both feminine and funky is more impressive. In addition, she shines on "Santa Baby" and "Merry Christmas Baby" by displaying the right mix of coyness and vocal control. There are some missteps, though. Chief among them is "This Christmas." Donny Hathaway set the standard and Evans does little to pay homage to or surpass him. The same goes for "White Christmas." While Evans' intention is to highlight her vocals, they get in the way of the song and she comes off as trying too hard.
Because Evans is an artist, she jazzes up a few things. "O Come All Ye Faithful," for example, is a tasteful mix of Christmas tradition and contemporary R&B. For her own new contribution to the genre, "Christmas Wish," she combines hip-hop rhythms with references to Billie Holiday and others that probably reflect her own eclectic influences.
While it's shameful that it takes a Christmas album for Evans to showcase her immense gift, A Faithful Christmas is a great stocking stuffer for those who cherish true talent.
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