12 Soulful Nights of Christmas

Track Listing

Number Title Lyrics Stream Video
1Kenny Lattimore - This Time Of YearlyricsN/Avideo
2Xscape - Christmas Without YoulyricsN/Avideo
3K-Ci & Jojo - In Love At ChristmaslyricsN/AN/A
4Alicia Keys - Little Drummer GirllyricsN/Avideo
5Voices Of Soul - Someday At ChristmaslyricsN/AN/A
6Chaka Khan - Christmas Only Once A YearlyricsN/Avideo
7Faith Evans - A Christmas LullabyelyricsN/AN/A
8Brian McKnight - Because Of His LovelyricsN/Avideo
9Tamia - The Christmas SonglyricsN/Avideo
10Gerald Levert - Christmas Without My GirllyricsN/AN/A
11Trina Broussard - Not Really ChristmaslyricsN/AN/A
12Trey Lorenz - My Younger DayslyricsN/AN/A
13Neena Lee - Every Day Should Be ChristmaslyricsN/AN/A
14Jagged Edge - This ChristmaslyricsN/AN/A

12 Soulful Nights is the Die Hard of Christmas Albums

12 Soulful Nights of Christmas was an awesome take on the Christmas album. Featuring 14 different artists, the album is largely comprised of original R&B tracks about Christmas. What I love about it compared to most regular Christmas albums is that the songs feel tailored to the artists that are performing them. This removes some of the awkward karaoke vibe I get from a lot of Christmas albums.

This decision to make a custom album tailored to the artists is a blessing and a curse. It means we get a lot of great new R&B songs from a variety of artists. However, most of the songs don't really FEEL like Christmas songs. They feel more in the vain of the Die Hard debate. Is Die Hard a Christmas movie? It technically has Christmas in it. This album is similar. It's a great collection from talented artists, but play it at a party, and will other people tell you to turn it off in favor of real Christmas music?

With that in mind, here's a breakdown of all the album's tracks.

Kenny Lattimore - This Time of Year

The album starts with an original from Kenny Lattimore. This track demonstrates what to expect from the album. While this is a Christmas song, it feels tailored to Kenny Lattimore, fitting his style well. The track has a strong climax and is pleasant to listen to. It actually has more of a Christmas vibe than many tracks to come. My problem with it is, like many Kenny Lattimore songs, I just find myself struggling to engage with it.

Xscape - Christmas Without You

In the second spot, Xscape show the complexity of this album. Christmas Without You is a great, classic 90s R&B track. This song could be on any of their albums and I would consider it one of their better tracks. The harmonies are on point. Overall, it has a great blend of the holidays and R&B music. But is it a Christmas song? Not really, but still, I don't care. I'll listen to it at any time of year.

K-Ci & JoJo - In Love At Christmas

K-Ci and JoJo croon on this track about the importance of being in love around Christmas time. The song showcases their classic sound and riffs, but ultimately it's a bit of a stinker song. It just doesn't feel like it has much of a push to it.

Alicia Keys - Little Drummer Boy

This track made me pause and say wait a second. Songs in A Minor came out in 2001, yet here around all these 90s legends is Alicia Keys in 1998. What's even more amazing is that while this came out in 1998 and she was only 17, she sounds like classic Alicia. It's a great preview of what was coming from her, and its a solid track.

Voices of Soul - Someday at Christmas

This track actually is one of the first ones that I hear and I'm like, this feels like a legit Christmas song. It successfully navigates the balance between being an R&B track and being a Christmas song. The performers sound great, it has a nice feel to it. It is a strange mix as every other track on the album features a single artist, whereas this was a dumping ground of all sorts of artists. It can be a fun who's who to try and listen and see who you recognize. Alicia Keys, Blaque, Jagged Edge and more all make appearances here.

Chaka Khan - Christmas Only Once a Year

Strong easy listening performance by Chaka Khan. It's a little too easy listening for me though. I have a hard time focusing in on the words and delivery, so the track just becomes a track that fades into the background. A fine song, but I couldn't remember it.

Faith Evans - A Christmas Lullabye

A short, almost interlude in the middle of the album. Faith Evans runs it well, showing some strong delivery on the track. A solid intermission though I'd love to see it expanded into more.

Brian McKnight - Because of His Love

For Brian McKnight, this was an easy one. All of his albums feature a religious track, so it feels like here he was like "hey, I have this one in my trunk, lets use it for my track." It fits in with the religious tracks from his albums, and it hits the right notes for that. It's good listening and the most "Christmas" song on the album. Of course, if you're not into the religious side of Christmas, it might not hit the right notes for you.

Tamia - The Christmas Song

A traditional Christmas song! I was starting to think the album was going to not bother with any of these, but I guess this is one of those ones that you have to include. Tamia does a great job with the song, providing some sultry delivery. She has such a voice, and the horn joining in is a nice add on. I wish we could have gotten an original from Tamia because she's something special, but if she had to do a classic Christmas song, this is a solid one to choose.

Gerald Levert - Christmas Without My Girl

The companion song to Xscape's Christmas Without You, Christmas Without My Girl is my favorite track on the album. It doesn't feel like a Christmas song at all, but it's such a CLASSIC Gerald Levert song. The lyrics are tight, his delivery is so right. He brings out such a pained sound, it's hard not to nod your head with him. I don't think anyone will ever view it as a classic Christmas song, but it is an outstanding R&B track.

Trina Broussard - Not Really Christmas

Amidst all these stars, Trina Broussard is unfortunately an artist who wasn't able to get her career going at So So Def. Listening to her here, it's a shame that they weren't able to make something more of her as she has a great sound. She feels like a blend of Alicia Keys and a 50s night club. This track is similar to Voices of Soul where I think it's fairly effective at hitting some of the feel of Christmas while also being a good R&B song.

Trey Lorenz - My Younger Days

A track reflecting on childhood and growing up, it's got a nice uptempo beat that helps break it out from the rest of the album. The supporting vocalists give the track some anthem vibes. Unfortunately, I feel like the chorus is too repetitive which sets it back some. However, the verses are good.

NeeNa Lee - Every Day Should Be Christmas

The chorus is solid, the verses are good, and the vocals are on point. Could definitely play this track while drinking hot chocolate and enjoying the holiday season. But it doesn't pull me in the way I feel like it should. A fine track, but just not quite there.

Jagged Edge - This Christmas

I was expecting the cheeky classic Christmas song here, but was pleasantly surprised by the track we got instead. Jagged Edge brings some haunting harmonies and power on this track. Lyrically, it's still a pretty goofy song. "All I want this Christmas, is to keep your body warm." Alright. Still, the delivery on this track exceeds my expectations, and is a nice listen as a whole.

Overall, if you're not a traditionalist, this is a great R&B album for an 90s R&B fan. It features tons of talented artists doing Christmas songs that are tailored to their style. If you're craving the classics, you'll be disappointed here. But if you want some good music that is thematically relevant to the time of year, there's nothing better than this album.

Christmas highlights - Tamia, Voices of Soul, Faith Evans

Favorite songs - Xscape, Gerald Levert, Trina Broussard

tl;dr: This album is the Die Hard of Christmas albums. It's a great R&B album featuring tons of talented artists who sing songs that reference Christmas time. But is it a Christmas album? The jury's still out. It's well worth a purchase, but you won't see Rudolph or White Christmas anywhere.