‘Tis the season to be serenaded by Hamilton: An American Musical’s original Aaron Burr. Leslie Odom Jr.’s Christmas album, titled “Simply Christmas,” has finally debuted just in time for the holiday season.
Since hearing his portrayal of Aaron Burr in Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton: An American Musical, I have been following Odom Jr.’s solo career, post-broadway stardom- including the re-mastered/re-release of his self titled debut solo album. His truly once-in-a-lifetime talent constantly has me on the verge of tears in awe of his exceptionality. And once I heard that he was working on a Christmas album- my favorite time of the year with music that I can never get enough of- well, let’s just say that I, myself, accurately portrayed an iconic persona: Kim Kardashian ugly crying.
On November 11th, “Simply Christmas” dropped and my soul was simply fulfilled. I am on the side of holiday cheer that does not start until after Thanksgiving no matter how much I love the season, but I could not stop myself from listening to this glorious album on repeat. In an interview, Odom Jr. said he “didn’t want (the album) to be sad, but it was never really cheery,” as well as stated that he “hated all of the original tracks,” and the album was almost completely re-recorded before releasing the final form to the public. True to his words- this album is one of unique sound that takes eight Christmas tunes that we know and love to a new level.
Odom Jr.’s own work is known for its smooth Jazz, and “Simply Christmas” is no exception. The minimalism of the instrumentation and the raw talent of Odom Jr.’s voice was truly all the album needed. With Odom Jr.’s personal take on the most redundant of Christmas tunes, it was as if I had heard them all again for the first time. Being active in choirs and other choral organizations since the age of eleven, I have heard “Ave Maria” done countless times- mostly in the same way over and over again; but, Odom Jr.’s version melted my notion that there was no possible way the song could be done in any other manner, let alone in a manner that would make me actually enjoy a track I had become to used to.
Every track surprised me in its own unique nature- all with minimalistic smooth jazz, but each and every track sounding different from the next while still remaining absolutely stunning and pure. Personally, I had never really considered “My Favorite Things” from The Sound of Music to be a Christmas song, and I never truly understood why it was even classified as one until I heard Odom Jr.’s rendition. I am now another sheep in the flock for this track, with Leslie Odom Jr. being my shepherd.
Along with leaving me in awe with every turn each track took, I never thought that I could be sexually attracted to Christmas music, yet here I am. If you’re wanting to hear new and refreshing renditions of your favorite Christmas carols to put you in the spirit of the holiday season, Leslie Odom Jr.’s “Simply Christmas” is definitely the way to go.