I don’t know about you, but I’m still not feeling particularly festive – so I thought I’d give this BBC Radio York curated compilation a spin and see if it helped to change my mood. As the title suggests, 12 Traditional Christmas Songs is exactly that – but the twist is that each of these songs have been re-imagined by one of 12 local artists hand-picked from the many acts featured on BBC Introducing In York & North Yorkshire.
Naturally, each artist has a different take on these traditional carols – Union Jill play things straight by delivering a faithful version of ‘Coventry Carol’, while Bull exemplify their slacker-rock approach to ‘O Come All Ye Faithful’ by only singing two lines from the original song. Elsewhere, Pip Mountjoy has her sights set on next year’s John Lewis advert with her rendition of ‘The Holly And The Ivy’, while BluesBeaten Redshaw offers an appropriately jaunty take on ‘I Saw Three Ships Come Sailing In’. Other tracks distinctly suggest the influence of a particular artist: Littlemores channel early Arctic Monkeys on their version of ‘Ding Dong Merrily On High’, Adam Chodan imagines how Noel Gallagher might sing along to ‘Away In A Manger’, King No-One‘s cover of ‘We Wish You A Merry Christmas’ echoes Daft Punk’s ‘Get Lucky’, and The Buccaneers take on ‘Jingle Bells’ in the style of ‘Birthday’ by The Beatles.
The best moments on the album are when the artists really make their own mark on their chosen song. Bear Station offer up a beautifully arranged version of ‘God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen’, while Gavin Loughlin enlists the aid of two female vocalists to deliver a harmonious, minimal take on ‘Hark The Herald Angels Sing’. Special mention must also go to Nathan Luke, whose stunning delivery makes his version of ‘Silent Night’ a real highlight – you can just imagine him bringing an entire congregation to a standstill with it. It’s The Blueprints who best succeed in putting their own stamp on their chosen song though, rendering ‘While Shepherd’s Watch’ in their signature propulsive indie-rock style – and also throwing in a little trademark humour by featuring some alternative lyrics you may remember from your school days and a cheeky nod to BBC Radio York DJ Jericho Keys.
As if all this festivity wasn’t enough on its own, all proceeds from sales of the album are going towards the BBC Radio York and St. Martin’s Hospice “Good Night’s Sleep” appeal, which you can find out more about here. You can get a copy of the album on CD from the St. Martin’s Hospice website, or download it on iTunes – and do so knowing that it won’t just be your face that it’ll help to put a smile on.