Albums: John Legend does Christmas, Thom Yorke's Suspiria remake soundtrack
A Legendary Christmas
FROM the very first note you can tell this is going to be a modern classic Christmas album... What Christmas Means To Me even has Stevie Wonder on harmonica – talk about starting strong! Silver Bells is equally great, and it makes you wonder why it has taken so long for the critically acclaimed, multi-platinum singer-songwriter to record these classic tracks. The upbeat funkiness of the first two tracks drops with a smooth and jazzy Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas featuring singer and bassist Esperanza Spalding and this continues with the rich and bluesy Merry Christmas Baby. The depth of Nat King Cole's classic Chestnuts is sublime. The whole tinsel-strewn affair is rounded off with a bouncy and fun rendition of Merry Merry Christmas just calling out for you to jump about with your finest Strictly jive routine. This album just screams gingerbread and hot chocolate, roaring fires and blankets. Out of this seasonal world.
Halloween Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
HORROR fans were excited when the news was announced that not only would John Carpenter be involved in the new Halloween movie, he would also be composing the soundtrack. Despite the seemingly never-ending number of films in the franchise, Carpenter hasn't been involved in the canon he created since Halloween III in 1982. Fresh from the success of his Lost Themes series and remakes of some of his classic themes – made with his son Cody and Daniel Davies – the trio have worked together again to put together a soundtrack worthy of the horror classic. Four decades since the original, his budget may have greatly increased, but the spirit is the same, with pulsating Moog and Roland keyboards, mellotrons and pianos recreating elements of the original score, alongside dramatic, chilling new elements. Perfect late-night listening for the season of the witch.
BROODING, disconnected, an ever-present sense of dread and paranoia ... it's not too hard to imagine why Luca Guadagnino, the Italian director behind the new remake of 1977 horror classic Suspiria, was so set on having Thom Yorke write the music for him. The Radiohead singer's 23-track album – his first full film score – takes in a range of influences from choral to Krautrock, and offers a chance to take his experimental sensibilities one step further, away from the constraints of the popular album format. But amid its eerie instrumentals and suffocating darkness, Suspiria also features some insanely beautiful songs. Open Again, a smothering slow-roller enveloped by swirling delay loops, was described by Yorke as "the most simple and pure statement in the film I think, lyrically". And Unmade – a fragile falsetto piano ballad that shatters into tiny fragments – is a moment of stunning clarity that could easily have made it on to a Radiohead record (perhaps it still will).
A WHOPPING 14 years since he last released an album of new music, Andrea Bocelli's Si reminds the listener that the Italian singer's voice is as beautiful, as rich and as powerful as ever. What makes this record exciting is Bocelli's work with a range of young artists. Fall On Me, a duet with his son Matteo, is a moving piece which highlights the bond between father and son, and showcases the younger singer's potential and talent. Similarly, Bocelli's collaboration with Ed Sheeran on Amo Soltanto Te seamlessly blends the voices and the styles of these two icons, illustrating the individuality and ability of both. However, other pairings are less successful. Dua Lipa is drowned out by Bocelli's strength on If Only. And, while Raphael Gualazzi's piano accompaniment is impressive on Vertigo, his style seems to clash with Bocelli's vocals. Perhaps just a few of those collabs could have been solo efforts.
The Kingdom Choir
Stand By Me
THERE is very, very little to dislike about the debut album from The Kingdom Choir, which made an appearance at the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex in May. After being watched by a global audience of millions, the London-based choir quickly signed a record deal and have now produced a record of genuinely beautiful cover versions of hits, ranging from classics such as Amazing Grace and I Say A Little Prayer, to newer tracks, such as Stormzy's Blinded By Your Grace Part 2 and Halo by Beyonce. Each one is as goosebump-inducing as the next. Each is cloaked in familiarity, honouring the original piece, but with that deft addition of choral wonder. If you want to hear completely new, unusual, genre-bending versions of well-known hits, you've come to the wrong place. But otherwise, this record is truly a delight.