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Tinsel and Lights

Tinsel and Lights

29 Oct 2012
4.6 out of 5 stars 47 customer reviews

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    Title by Artist
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1
Joy
3:59
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2
3:24
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3
2:38
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4
2:11
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5
2:38
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6
2:39
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2:18
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8
3:16
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9
3:26
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10
3:24
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11
4:10
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12
4:29
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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Arriving just in time, as the clocks go back and the temperature falls, is Tracey Thorn's Christmas album.

The clear highlight is `Joy'. Written by Tracey, it is a beautifully poetic and nuanced ballad about how as adults we see Christmas in a new light - as something fragile, a special time with family and friends that brings back memories of Christmas' past and raises fears for what future years may bring. "You loved it as a kid and now you need it more than you ever did" is just one line of many the strikes a chord. The piano backing slowly expands to include percussion, backing vocals and (for the first of many occasions on the album) a kind of warm 'glow'.

Tracey's only other self-penned song on this album is the title track `Tinsel and Lights', which also reflects on how Christmas changes in meaning as we get older. The lyrics are about looking back on a previous Christmas, half with happiness and half with the bittersweet realisation that it may not have been so perfect after all.

`Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas', the only traditional Christmas song on the album, is wonderfully realised. Played straight, with lush orchestral arrangement, it showcases Tracey's unique vocals. Lyrically, it's very much in keeping with the more modern songs selected for this album. By the time she gets to the "..until then, we'll have to muddle through somehow" line, it's difficult not to shed a tear or two.

The version here of Randy Newman's `Snow' is one of the best things Tracey's done - simple, desolate and achingly sad.

It is be no means an electronic album but `Taking Down The Tree' - a cover of a song by Low and now a duet with Green Gartside - successfully introduces subtle electronica elements and beats.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Halloween is over, miserable November is beginning,and here to brighten things up is an early festive album offering. In general Christmas themed albums can be pretty dire, with artists trotting out their own versions of standard seasonal classics that we have all heard hundreds of times before and adding little extra value, often being sentimental with far too many sleigh bells in the mix.
This album takes a different route, with 2 classy original compositions by Tracey Thorn;the album opener,Joy,looks at Christmas's past as a time of reflection,and is a fantastic new song up there with the best;while title track Tinsel and Lights is an affectionate reflection on a New York Christmas and gets a topical reference in on climate change " The winters got warmer then last year's got colder" and the final line "I fell in love with Christmas again" could be the tag line for this whole album.
The other 10 tracks are classy covers very carefully selected, many are relatively obscure, coming from a wide range of backgrounds. 2 songs have a lush orchestral arrangement, with the only real standard , Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, and a very tasteful version of Joni Mitchell's River is a particular highlight and favourite of mine. Elsewhere source material varies widely from Randy Newman's Snow, through Jack White's In the Cold Cold Night, to Sufjan Stevens Sister Winter. Tracey's vocals are clear, strong , and well to the fore, and the production is generally simple and straightforward, well done without too much embelishment.
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By Red on Black TOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 2 Nov. 2012
Format: Audio CD
Its that time of year and for the next two months we will be inundated with a plethora of artists chancing their luck with a Christmas album. Sorting out the wheat from the chaff is not always difficult since some artists present their Turkeys ready stuffed. Bob Dylan's Christmas album for instance was so bad it was almost good. Tracey Thorn alternatively has one steady advantage over many artists, she has a rich and and poignant voice infused with a frisson of aching regret which she has used to splendid advantage with bands as diverse as Everything but the Girl and guesting with Bristol trip hop specialists Massive Attack. Some would argue that this whole production could be deemed out of character for the "Bedsit Disco Queen" and NME has harshly argued about this album that if "your planning microwaved turkey dinner for one this year, there's probably no better soundtrack". But let us cast away doubt and blow an emphatic Humbug to those indie scrooges.

Certainly it would be a safe option to record a "standard" Xmas fare but thankfully this is not a Michael Buble style Sinatra inspired cover fest. Indeed the only real "standard" on "Tinsel and Lights" is her cover of "Have yourself a Merry Little Christmas. She is up against stiff competition here since James Taylor did a lovely cool jazzy version of this a while back and Tori Amos produced a lush escalating piano ballad. Thorn's versions ranks all these, she may "be muddling through somehow" but she is doing an excellent job of it accompanied by a rich orchestral arrangements you can almost hear the snow falling. Her own opening composition "Joy" is a tender ballad and in a fair world would become a Christmas classic, her voice is as pure and tender as ever on this track.
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