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4.4 out of 5 stars
A Christmas Cornucopia
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57 of 59 people found the following review helpful
on 14 December 2010
This album has truly captured the essence of what this time of year is all about and Annie has done it in style. The production, the vocals,the choirs and the choice of songs has gone far beyond what I was expecting and I am delighted with the result.

When I heard back in August that Annie was planning to record an album full of Christmas Carols I was admittedly very skeptical. After all there are so many artists out there who do this each year ...go and record an album of festive songs except they come away with an end product full of lacklustre results.

Like 'Medusa' from 1995 this albums sounds as is if Annie had written these tradtional songs herself. How she has the ability to make the hairs on your neck stand up just listening to these songs is sensational. 'Lullay, Lullay' is truly haunting and yet so beautiful. 'The First Noel' is majestic and yet timid starting off with just a piano and soprano backing vocals from Annie. This is then followed by the most beautiful encore of Annie and the choirs reciting 'Noel, Noel born is the King of Israel' until the song ends. Absolutely stunning.

'As Joseph Was A Walking' starts off in a rather unusual but yet cheeky manner which builds to the most majestic bridge forming another beautiful Cathedral like encore of Annie singing an almost operatic 'Hallelujah, Hallelujah' which just builds and builds with each line gaining more power and beauty, The ending of this song of Annie with the Choir is absolutely stunning. You just don't want this too end...sooooooo beautiful.

'Silent Night' is another gorgeous number filled with tenderness, beauty and seasonal passion. The song starts almost like a lullaby with Annie and the piano in the 1st verse rising to to a choir and full orchestra in the second verse.
Absolutely wonderful, Annie!

This album for me has been the most perfect Christmas album I have ever encountered and will treasure for many many years to come.
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122 of 128 people found the following review helpful
TOP 500 REVIEWERon 15 November 2010
I love all kinds of Christmas music and from the beginning of December, I listen to Christmas albums all the time. Apart from the classic ones, I try to get at least one slightly different each year. Naturally as soon as I heard that Annie Lennox was doing a Christmas album I immediately ordered it. This emotional Christmas album with the unique voice of Annie Lenox, and a significant African influence, did not disappoint me at all.

Focusing on children and the hope a new birth brings, with the heart breaking beautiful traditional "Coventry Carol" and "O Little Town of Bethlehem", this album is the very meaning of Christmas. Apart from the well known Christmas songs, the album includes Lenox's new song "Universal Child" inspired by her work in Africa and the suffering of children that she witnessed.

Lenox performs in her own way, classic Christmas songs like "God Rest You Merry, Gentlemen", "The First Noel", "The Holly and the Ivy", and "Silent Night". However what I loved most about this album is that it includes less known Christmas songs, and it was such a lovely surprise to get them in this collection. Songs like the traditional French "Il Est Né Le Divin Enfant", and the very old and beautiful "See, Amid The Winter's Snow" are songs we don't come across often and it was great to have in this album.

In addition to all those rare songs, the album includes one of the most beautiful songs; the somewhat sad and loving, "In the Bleak Midwinter", written as a poem by Christina Rosseti. Somehow, I had never heard this song before and learning about it, was my first Christmas present this year.

Have a Very Happy Christmas!!!
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76 of 80 people found the following review helpful
TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 4 December 2010
If you take a look at some of the song titles on this album (Silent Night, God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen etc) you could be forgiven for thinking 'I know what to expect here!' Well, frankly, you would be wrong. Annie Lennox has come such a long way since her days with The Tourists. She has blossomed into a solo recording star of the magnitude of Kate Bush who, has developed a style of her own that is every bit as unique as Kate is Kate.

'A Christmas Cornucopia' is a totally different festive album. It is festive but in a traditional way and it really works as an album listen - something that can very rarely be said for albums of this type. The longer the album goes on, the more Annie draws you inside. Her vocal performances are unusually to the fore on this album and that may unnerve some of her long term fans but musically this is as intimate as any artist ever gets with her audience. The piano playing on this record creates the kind of atmosphere only normally created at 'after gig parties' and Annie's voice has a richness and fullness about it that warms the insides as if a glass of the very best mulled wine.

A couple of the tracks are rather risky - 'IL Est Ne Le Divin Enfant' being the best example of this. Sung in French (I assume) to those that do not speak the language it is at first a confusing diversion and its strange musical arrangement gives the impression at times that Annie may be singing a little out of key. With repeated listens however, its very strangeness becomes its charm. It is, in fact, the perfect diversion to thrust the listener from his or her comfortable rut and lead into what follows. This is the true art of an artist at work. To make a collection of great songs is hard but to create an album that sounds every bit an album AS WELL as a collection of great songs is supremely difficult.

Highlights for me are 'The First Noel', 'In The Bleak Midwinter' the single - 'Universal Child' and the stunning opener, 'Angels From The Realms'. I don't want to go into too much detail about any of them here because I really want you to experience the joy of this album for yourself...

Summing up then..

If you want sleigh bells on every second of every track on a Christmas album then give this album a miss. If on the other hand you want to spend the best part of an hour with Annie Lennox this Christmas then this album is for you. Yes, there are choirs, yes, there are layered backing vocals and a few vocal effects along the way and no, this album is not as obviously Christmassy as one might expect but you will have to go a long way to listen to a better Christmas album this year.

Buy this.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
TOP 500 REVIEWERon 26 December 2010
If you buy a limited edition of anything, such as pottery, prints, or in this case a CD, it means a limit is placed on the number produced (which may mean that its value will increase over time). In this case you have a choice; you can buy the standard (blue) edition for just under £10, the limited (red) edition for just under £16, or the vinyl (green) edition for just under £30.

I love this compilation, and the amount of care that has gone into its preparation. Annie sings the lyrics beautifully, and living in Normandy we're looking forward to playing "Il Est Né le Divin Enfant" for our French neighbours when they call tomorrow (I'm writing this on Boxing Day). If I have one criticism it's that the running time falls short at 45 minutes.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 16 December 2011
Here's Annie's Christmas offering from 2010, indeed a cornucopia of many styles, unusual arrangements and lesser known traditional pieces. This is a very memorable collection for the holiday season, and while some numbers are more conventionally performed, in general Annie is really pushing the envelope artistically. You're not likely to confuse this with anything else! The choral arrangements are beautifully done. The first thing that struck me about this album was the sheer power that Annie uses as she belts out the carols. I can't help thinking that this is Annie almost giving the finger to the all-pervasive smothering political correctness of the age which says, 'Don't dare mention that name, Jesus Christ, you might offend someone'. She could be saying, 'This is a man who stands for the poor, the downtrodden and the suffering of the world, as I do, and I ain't shutting up.' Annie doesn't call herself a christian, preferring instead to believe in the hope and light in every faith. While some might not share her view, what else would we expect from this woman who cares deeply about the poor, and wants to identify with each regardless of race, nationality, or creed? The final number, 'Universal Child', seems to just about sum things up. Good on you Annie, may all your Christmases be bright.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
We are perhaps over exposed to sweet , over sentimental Christmas albums . THIS IS NOT ONE OF THEM . Here the mature Annie Lennox uses that wonderful voice to it's absolute best to deliver fresh , uncluttered versions of carols we have heard so many , many times before . Often with minimum piano or pipes accompaniment by herself , she beautifully interprets every carol . Universal child is one of the most moving thought provoking songs at this or indeed any time of the year . Worth the price of the album for this one alone .
An original work .
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 19 February 2012
Annie Lennox is one of those iconic artists who will be remembered in years to come for her amazing voice and contribution to music, as well as the fantastic charitable work she carries out. Her firth solo album "A Christmas Cornucopia" is a solid collection of holiday songs and Christmas carols which are given the full Annie Lennox treatment.

"Angels From The Realms Of Glory" is interpreted in a very uplifting manner in which Annie rejoices. "God Rest Ye Gentleman" has a very strong traditional Folk element and is almost medieval in its arrangements which allows Miss Lennox to express her darker side. "See Amid The Winters Snow" is a very soothing ballad with lullaby qualities to it. "Il Est Ne Le Devin Enfant" is quite a strange song choice as it is sung in French, but is interpreted using African vocal harmonies which actually works and creates an interesting atmosphere. "The First Noel" retains its sweetness and emotional qualities here with some lovely vocals which almost turn it into a hymn. "Lullay Lullay" is quite a dark and eerie song which suits Annie to a tee with her ability to create sombre atmospheres. "The Holly And The Ivy" is a beautifully arranged song with great vocal harmonies and a simple yet effective melody. "In The Bleak Midwinter" has a very pleasant rhythmic guitar and a subtle melody which is slowly built into a powerful traditional Folk track. "As Joseph Was A Walking" has an urgency and sense of expectancy about it with some very nice African vocals which soften the track and provide the song with variety and originality. "O Little Town Of Bethlehem" is another soothing and gentle joyful song and "Silent Night" remains the beautiful soft song that we have learnt to appreciate in its many versions. The only new recording on this album is the final track "Universal Child" that Annie recorded in line with her charity work and on going campaign against AIDS which is a moving and sweetly arranged ballad, fitting in with the rest of the album so beautifully.

Although I much prefer Annie Lennox's own work, I find these arrangements of traditional Christmas songs to be very original and interesting. There is not one flaw on this album and "A Christmas Cornucopia" is probably one of the best holiday albums I have heard.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 16 December 2010
I heard the first track taken from this album while driving back from London late one night and it conjured up the meaning of Christmas: 'Silent Night'. Having sampled the rest of the album, I remember we always sang 'See Amid the Winter's Snow' in primary school assembly in the first week of December. For sure I knew that Christmas was truly on its way. 'In the Bleak Midwinter' is another favourite recalling snowy winters and icicles hanging off window ledges. But perhaps the most exciting reminder was 'Il est ne le divin enfant'. I hadn't heard this carol since being taught it at secondary school by my French teacher. Happy memories, and an altogether uplifting collection of universal music. Listen to it with someone you love.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
After a friend introduced me to Annie Lennox's version of God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen I was hooked it was so folksy and steampunky that it was able to bring the song back to the 21st century
All the songs are perfect, there are no fillers at all. Even the lesser known ones are absolutely standout because of there (to me at least) unfamiliarity (Il est ne or divin enfant for example is a joy to hear)
And of course the classics are just elevated to a higher level because of her take on it (it did slightly ruin Midnight Mass though as we sang a few of her songs and I wanted them to have the Lennox spin on them which sadly they didn't)
This album was pretty much played throughout the Christmas period and no end of people kept asking who it was because they loved it so much
Come January and I still hear my partner humming Angels from the Realms of Glory, and I keep whistling the Holly and the Ivy.
What an album, pure joy
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 30 October 2011
I have never taken to these reviews as you assume they are all going to be hugely biased, and YES, I am a long time fan. But I had to let anyone thinking about getting a Christmas record that this really is a beautiful record even if Annie isn't your cup of tea. If you love traditional Christmas music, if you love interesting and original interpretations and genuine feeling and soul in your music then please get this one! Annie is at best agnostic but she puts her heart and soul into this like a true believer. The music is of course timeless and Annie has created moving, passionate and beautiful versions with real instruments, clever arrangements that stir and move and at times disturb, a remarkable achievement. It has energy, dynamism and takes you from wintry olde Englande to the times of Mary and Joseph. It may move you to tears (really!).
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