My Kind of Holiday

Elliott Yamin

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My Kind of Holiday Review

by Stephen Thomas Erlewine

The curious thing about Elliott Yamin's My Kind of Holiday is that it's not just Yamin's kind of holiday music -- it's flat-out his kind of music, an unabashed love letter to '70s soul, especially Stevie Wonder and Donny Hathaway. These were the idols he worshipped during his stint as an underdog on American Idol, but when he made his eponymous debut in 2007 he had to update his sound to fit into the marketplace, something that isn't quite as necessary to do on a Christmas record, which is meant to be a niche release in the first place. Yamin is the rare musician to understand this situation and he delivers an album that pleases his core audience instead of being a crossover attempt. My Kind of Holiday is nothing but funky '70s soul, leading off with a cover of Donny Hathaway's "This Christmas" and containing a cover of Clarence Carter's "Back Door Santa," which some latter-day listeners may recognize as the source of the horn sample that drives Run-D.M.C.'s "Christmas Time in Hollis." This makes for a holiday record that's looser and funkier than a lot of Christmas records, but there are still a few stumbles: try as he may he can't infuse "Little Drummer Boy" with soul, and when the mood gets a little quiet, his voice seems a little thin and raspy. But these are minor flaws: by and large, this is a surprisingly enjoyable holiday record and it would be nice if Yamin could get some of this vibe on his next studio album. After all, this is his kind of soul.

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