Halloween is over, the nights are drawing in and this year’s John Lewis advert has been revealed. That can only mean one thing – Christmas is coming, and with it the Christmas albums. Amongst the 2017 crop is Sarah Darling’s Winter Wonderland, following on from her critically acclaimed album Dream Country which was released earlier this year.
The album features eight Christmas classics and opens with Sarah’s take on Santa Baby. It’s a combination of a honky-tonk piano riff with a sweeping strings melody and suits Sarah’s sweet yet soulful tones perfectly. I love the warmth in her voice and she manages to keep the song on the right side of flirty and cheeky.
Other highlights include the delicate and dreamy White Christmas, Sarah’s soaring vocals on Silent Night and I’ll Be Home For Christmas, and her jazz-influenced version of The Christmas Song. I also liked her twist on the title track; normally it’s an uptempo jaunty tune but Sarah’s slowed-down rendition gives it a much gentler, softer feeling.
However my favourite moment on the album was Sarah’s cover of Joni Mitchell’s River. The lilting melody balances really well with the richness in her vocal, giving the whole thing a folky feel, and she does a great job of evoking the emotion of the song. It sounds absolutely beautiful and I can see this going down an absolute storm in her upcoming London headline show.
Overall Sarah has put together a solid Christmas album which would make a good addition to anyone’s festive record collection. I can imagine this being an excellent soundtrack to a chilled-out Christmas drinks party or being played on Christmas Eve with the curtains drawn and candles flickering. Her voice really suits these classic tracks and the arrangements of the songs have enough of a country spin but without straying too far from the originals. The one thing I would have liked is a more uptempo number amongst the ballads just to add a bit of variety and show what Sarah can do, but if you’re looking for something a little more mellow this Christmas then this is definitely worth a listen.
Track list: 1. Santa Baby 2. White Christmas 3. Silent Night 4. Winter Wonderland 5. The Christmas Song 6. River 7. I’ll Be Home For Christmas 8. Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas Record label: Be Darling Records Release date: 17th November 2017