Given Leon Timbo’s upbringing in church and his use of music to communicate spiritual experience, it is a treat for us that he’s made a Christmas album.
The six songs on Carols of Love and Healing (out now) include three Timbo originals and three traditional Christmas hymns.
The EP opens with an airy, syncopated country version of “Angels We Have Heard on High,” featuring Jesse Ray Miller. Timbo’s delivery ripples with Philadelphia soul. His sweet vocals on the chorus evoke the angels.
The original “Get Here” echoes the shimmering vocal power of Nickolas Ashford and Marvin Gaye’s heart-rending emotional delivery. The song expresses a simple plea: For families of all kinds, to get together and celebrate their unity despite their differences.
Another original, “Heal,” glides along a sparkling vibe, spiraling higher and higher over layers of keys and strings and bright guitar riffs, to deliver the message that “time does heal all.” Timbo’s phrasing allows us to enter the song where we will, hearing the notes that catch our souls in his vocal snare. He draws us into the song’s powerful message. There are echoes of Jerry Butler all through the EP, but Butler’s “Brand New Me” specifically reverberates in “Heal.”
“Oh Holy Night” plays so often on repeat this time of year that it’s become banal. But Timbo’s version resurrects the personal immediacy of the hymn by delivering it with heart and soul, as if the folks sitting around you are singing it.
Timbo’s “Silent Night” features Aaron Lindsey, Revel Day, and Isaac Lepulu. It is a hauntingly beautiful ode to the night before Christ was born, flowing over cascading piano chords. This segues effortlessly into the praise song “Watch Over Me,” (also featuring Lindsey, Day, and Lepulu). It is the final prayer of the album. Echoes of Andrae Crouch resonate through this closing song.
Take a break this season from the usual holiday music schlock to spin this soulful, uplifting new EP. Timbo’s voice caresses our souls tenderly, delivering each song as an act of prayer, petitioning for love to move among us, to heal our individual and communal wounds.
Carols of Love and Healing is available HERE.