When the holidays are upon us, what gets music lovers in the spirit more than a great Christmas album? Many of R&B’s legendary acts are known as much for their holiday albums as they are for their secular sets and crooner Will Downing hopes to join those ranks with “Christmas, Love and You.” Combining a mixture of new material with tried-and-true standards, Downing has made an affable enough set. His renditions of the up-tempo “All I Want for Christmas Is You” and “Christmas Time Is Here” are lush and moving, but it’s his interpolation of “The Little Drummer Boy” that steals the show. Downing, who co-produced the entire album, gives the song a world music feel, while his smooth vocals slide serenely all over the track. It’s a great new take on the classic.
As original material goes, “Love on Christmas Morning” is a sentimental tune with a grooving keyboard bridge. Similarly, the album’s title track is also sweet enough to give you a toothache, but that’s what the holidays are all about. While “Christmas, Love and You” may not have earned Downing a spot next to the Temptations or the Jackson 5 in the annals of great Christmas classics, it will certainly make for great music while you and yours are sitting around the ole Christmas tree. —Rashaun Hall