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John Legend | A Legendary Christmas

The flawless musical icon dishes up a perfectly goddamn delightful holiday set.

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Goodwill toward men is a fine thing. But honestly, sometimes it’s hard to extend that feeling to John Legend. Not that he doesn’t deserve it; dude is clearly on the side of the angels. But really, does he have to keep rubbing our noses in his amazing life? I mean, come on: He’s a multi-talented, multi-tasking multi-millionaire with worldwide fame, a shelf full of awards and a former supermodel wife. There is apparently nothing he cannot do — and do with class, style and excellence. So don’t blame me for wishing just a little that his new Christmas album A Legendary Christmas would be the one tiny flaw in the otherwise pristine jewel of his existence. But no; it’s perfectly goddamn delightful, just like everything else Legend does. There’s no generic shmaltz or tossed-off drivel here. Instead, the Raphael Saadiq-produced set balances strong new originals and cool Yule classics — all colourfully wrapped in the authentic trappings of old-school soul, R&B, funk, blues and jazz, complete with in-the-pocket grooves, punchy horn charts, and assists from Stevie Wonder (blowing harp on his own composition What Christmas Means to Me) and Esperanza Spalding (harmonizing on Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas). Legend’s warm caramel voice fits perfectly with the more joyous material, and he sounds not unlike Nat King Cole on the ballads. Plus he even manages to look cool in a goofy Santa cap in the Bing Crosby-inspired cover pic. So basically, it’s one of the most essential holiday albums this season, and a disc that will undoubtedly become part of your annual playlist. And if all that isn’t enough, he just announced he’s got a TV Christmas special coming up. Which will undoubtedly earn him another Emmy that he’ll totally deserve. Sigh.