Twelve Tales of Christmas
FESTIVE ALBUM FROM KEANE FRONTMAN
For some Christmas music is less a soundtrack to seasonal merriment, and more a bitter reminder of our days in the retail trenches. Ten-hour shifts, five days a week, for a whole month affords you a lot of time to deconstruct the awfulness of the Crimbo canon. Joyeux Noel be damned, and I don’t care if David Bowie did a Christmas song – bah humbug! And now, as if it couldn’t get much worse, the frontman of one of my least favourite bands of the early millennium, Keane, has released a solo Christmas album. That’s it, call it off, I’ve had enough!
But wait! Just like George Bailey in It’s A Wonderful Life, I have seen, or at least heard, the light. Tom Chaplin’s ‘Twelve Tales Of Christmas’ is a beautiful, stirring piece of work. Despite being blessed with a distinctive voice, Chaplin’s erstwhile endeavours have very often left me cold; but here, there is a plaintive, soulful quality to his writing. Twelve
Tales Of Christmas sees Chaplin playing to the more sorrowful aspects of the season – loneliness, isolation, struggle: this is a darkly introspective piece of work. Indeed, it’s best listened to as you sit by the fireplace, sipping a brandy, basking in the shimmering neon glow of some pound shop Christmas lights.
While cover versions abound – including a spacey version of
East 17’s ‘Stay Another Day’, an enthralling take on Joni Mitchell’s ‘River’, and an absolutely gorgeous rendition of The Pretenders’
‘2000 Miles’ – original Chaplin compositions such as ‘For The Lost’ and the sublime ‘Follow My Heart’ offer moving contemplations of vulnerability. For good measure, the album’s splendid production by David Kosten is lush and haunting.
There are times when the sense of melancholy is almost overwhelming, but this is an earnest, tender, and romantic effort, which explores the forlorn feelings beneath the festivities. Joyeux Noel, after all! OUT NOW // WAYNE BYRNE