It’s now just over a week until Christmas day, but December has already brought many treats - the smell of mince pies and mulled wine, the need for a roaring log fire, and the annual For Folk’s Sake Christmas compilation. Of course, the world is not short of festive tunes, and I’m the first to admit that when it comes to Christmas, my music taste tends to deteriorate – a tinsel length of Wham never hurt anyone. Despite this confession, I’m still able to know good music when I hear it, and this compilation includes much of just that.
A mixture of covers and original songs, the album is a whole stocking worth of treats, with an eclectic range of sounds from the dulcet piano melodies of Howard Carter’s Adagio from Corelli’s Christmas Concerto, to Emperor Yes’ ‘Time Frog 4000’, a bizarre track, which sounds like it’s been composed by a psychedelic Santa after one too many.
Sophie Jamieson’s version of ‘The First Noel’ has a Beth Jeans Houghton vibe to it, with aptly angelic vocals. Laish’s rendition of ‘Silent Night’ gives a more pessimistic view of the Christmas season with the lyrics, ‘Bitter winter has taken your cheer, tiresome company spoilt your beer’. One of my favourite carols, ‘Coventry Carol’ has been beautifully reinterpreted by Inti Rowland to have an almost Hispanic feel to it, accompanied by a simple but powerful guitar.
As for original songs, Dark Dark Dark’s ‘Winter Coat’ is a haunting number with its piano accordion accompaniment, and intertwining male and female vocals. Much like Jens Lekman, Joe Innes & the Cavalcade have the perfect dose of whimsical lyrics and catchy melodies in ‘Santa Says Relax’, before slipping into a short rendition of ‘Santa Baby’.
All the very best Christmas songs contain sumptuous vocal harmonies and twinkling piano riffs, and ‘Christmas All The Time’ by Pollyanna Band ticks all the boxes, sounding like it should be on the Love Actually soundtrack - no bad thing in my book. Stornoway’s ‘Gondwanaland’ seems less overtly Christmassy than the other tracks, but with references to ‘silent snow’ and an ‘icy street’ it just about passes the wintry weather test, and nonetheless its gentle melody provides the perfect winter evening accompaniment.
With profits from the album going to Medecins Sans Frontières, this compilation is the perfect gift for this Christmas. You can buy it now here.