Christmas music has arrived at Angry Baby Music! However, this is not Christmas music as you might know it – entitled Dark Side of Christmas, this album from Collette Cooper takes a look at the darker side of the festive season. Reflecting the current world turmoil, this collection of six songs takes a poignant approach to Christmas, touching on themes of love, loss and empathy, tied together with Colette’s trademark wit.
The album kicks off with an original Collette Cooper poem recited by Ray Winstone before we hear the traditional meeting the modern in ‘Silent Night‘. The understated approach to this favourite of carols lets Collette’s voice speak for itself, ably backed by Kings Voices choir – the pared back nature underscores the dark side of Christmas to perfection.
Another dark side of Christmas for many is the loneliness and loss felt by many at what is widely supposed to be a joyful and joyous time of year. Collette explores this in ‘Another Day‘ and in the title track, both of which examine loss and regret, albeit in different ways. Colette’s understanding of loss is evident in the former track, with its bittersweet memories entwined throughout:
the angels singing reminds us of the love you bring, of the time we shared our dreams on a New Year’s Day
‘Dark Side of Christmas’ repeats the opening lines of the opening poem before moving into toe tapping gospel infused tones and melody and a focus on the redemptive nature of Christmas and the coming of a New Year. The principal character looks back on life and forward for redemption
there is a dark side of Christmas, but the light comes shining through
one more chance to be redeemed, the church bells ring the truth
Lest you think this album is solely focused on the darker element of the Yuletide season, there are three tracks to dispel that notion. The Gershwin’s ‘Ain’t Necessarily So‘ gets a Christmas makeover with the addition of ‘Carol of the Bells‘, whilst Collette’s wicked sense of humour is given full throttle in ‘Run Santa Baby‘. This latter song is full of danceability and hugely reminiscent of the Gershwin era – I could easily imagine this being used on the Strictly Come Dancing Christmas special.
Lastly, Collette’s recording of ‘What A Wonderful World’ is one of the best I’ve heard; simple, pure and bookended by the sounds of laughter and Christmas spirit, the song sounds as if was written for Collette.
I cannot say enough good things about this Christmas album, and I am completely unable to pick a favourite track – I love them all!
Collette’s advice for aspiring musicians is all about keeping going and what success means:
“I think the most important thing as an artist is to be yourself! Don’t emulate others. Draw some influence and take inspiration by all means but stay true to yourself. Just follow your own heartbeat and be kind to others on your exciting journey. And remember, the word ‘fail’ only exists in the mind if you allow it to live there rent free! Keep going! You’re doing great!
Dark Side of Christmas was released on November 18 on Thelonious Punk Records. Get your copy here.
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