When he’s not performing with country music Twitter’s recent whipping boys The Zac Brown Band, John Driskell Hopkins gives back to Georgia music with projects like his third Christmas album, the R&B-inspired Our Finest Gifts.
Hopkins cut his new album with cover song connoisseurs the ATL Collective and a handful of special guests, including Trombone Shorty (“Happy Seasons”) and local treasure Ruby Velle (“Someday at Christmas”).
Highlights include a crooner-style take on “Christmas Is,” a co-write by a cornerstone of easy listening music, Percy Faith. There’s also a very ’70s take on Marvin Gaye’s “Purple Snowflakes” and a cover of Donnie Hathaway’s “This Christmas” that captures Hopkins in all his soulful glory.
There are even a couple of gospel songs to cap off a family-friendly holiday listening experience. “Sweet Little Jesus Boy” slows things down to explain the reason for the season: a change of pace that finds Hopkins switching roles from band leader to choir director.
Closer “Little Drummer Boy” crosses all the before-mentioned streams, making it a mashup of soul, R&B and mass choir might. At the very least, the album’s big send-off and its 11 preceding tracks offer something for fans turned off by Hopkins’ main gig – although anyone not giving “Leaving Love Behind” its due deserves coal in their stocking.