Album Review – Chilly Gonzales: A very chilly christmas

Chilly Gonzales – A very chilly christmas

Christmas songs are often the very antithesis of festive reality and also pretty bizarre in their concept. Santa Claus is coming to town after having spied on you all year, it’s the most wonderful time of the year – to feel under pressure, get into debt and keep a smile on your face whilst you’re rocking around the tree… Merry Christmas everyone!

As we all wait to discover which song has been given the ‘singing from a ditch’ treatment on this year’s John Lewis advert, take the time to seek out something altogether more palatable – the holiday album you didn’t know you needed in your life but which proves to be an unexpectedly cordial companion.

Resplendent in smoking jacket, Grammy award winning Chilly Gonzales has produced an album full of elegance and emotions on this collection of seasonal songs, think Nick Cave at the piano and a smattering of smooth strings mixed with the tinkling expectancy of a silent movie soundtrack. From Silent Night to Jingle Bells, everything gets a sleek update and if you must do a cover of Last Christmas, this is how it should be done, the grandiose addition of cellist Stella Le Page paying the appropriate amount of respect to a songwriter talented above his commercial success.

The collaborative tracks add extra layers, with sugar-coated vocals from singer-songwriter Feist on The Banister Bough and regular associate Jarvis Cocker breathing an almost sinister spoken vocal into In the Bleak Midwinter. Both artists return for one of the optimum moments of the album on Snow is Falling in Manhattan, a track that fellow Canadian Leonard Cohen would surely have approved of, a Hallelujah for the pandemic if you will.

Speaking about the record, Chilly Gonzales says, “Christmas is a time of very mixed intense emotion for me, and the existing canon often sounds like a forced smile. Christmas is a typical time for superficial happiness, but also a time for reflection and mourning the sad events throughout the year. The songs of A very chilly christmas make room for a more authentic interpretation of this very peculiar 2020 holiday season.”

The overall experience draws a hypnotic familiarity that conjures up images of the fireplace draped in holly, whilst a slightly dysfunctional family play charades as grandma falls asleep in her armchair, an empty sherry glass in her hand and a smile on her face. Not your average Christmas album but then it’s not been your average year. All in all, A very chilly christmas is a veritable box of gift-wrapped treats best opened early.

A very chilly christmas is released tomorrow, 13th November 2020 – pre-order and pre-save links here 

Review by Siobhan
Photo via Sonic PR

12th November 2020