Annie Lennox would probably hate being called a grand old dame of British pop, but there’s no two ways about it – she is. Inspiring deep devotion among a large section of the public – who have her on a time-share with Kate Bush – there’s enough in the worldwide sales of 85 million and more to suggest she’s quite popular. She was actually born on Christmas Day you know, so if anyone is allowed to release a Christmas album, it’s her. And after over 30 years in the business we call show, with nearly 20 of those as a solo artist, why not?
Addressing her stately tones upon an array of Christmas standards with accompaniment from a full orchestra here and an African children’s choir there, Lennox tackles the likes of God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen, Lullay Lullay (Coventry Carol), Oh Little Town of Bethlehem and delivers a simply delightful version of Silent Night. She also turns her attentions to include the lesser known See Amid the Winter’s Snow, as well as exploring carols from further afield such as the traditional French Il Est Ne Le Divin Enfant, which is a joyfully upbeat moment among the occasionally over-familiar grandiosity of most of the album.
Good on her for actually saying it’s a Christmas album too, and not going down the pompous route of Sting’s "it’s a winter album actually" approach of last year. She does, however, finish the collection with a self-penned number, Universal Child. But while it’s new, it slots in nicely with centuries-old traditional arrangements which have become familiar anthems.
As with any festive release, the magic of A Christmas Cornucopia is best captured before the actual event itself, as come December 27 it will be as welcome as yet more turkey. But such is its quality that this collection could find itself becoming as much a part of the holiday season as arguments with loved ones, keeping receipts and watching the tree lights blur as you slowly drink yourself merry.
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One of the most iconic women in music, Annie Lennox turns her hand to 11 traditional festive songs. A Christmas Cornucopia sees Lennox reinterpret songs like "The Holly and the Ivy", "Silent Night" and "The First Noel", alongside a brand new Lennox composition: "Universal Child". The music on the album was mostly played by Lennox, in collaboration with co producer Mike Stevens, and recorded in his southwest London studio. The pair also worked with a 30-piece orchestra at Pinewood Studios and travelled to South Africa to record with the African Children’s Choir, a remarkable organization with which impassioned campaigner and activist Lennox has long had a relationship.
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