ALBION CHRISTMAS BAND – A Sound In The Frosty Air (Rooksmere Records RRCD104)

I’ve just had to slag off a certain ‘folk’(???) band for daring to ruin our traditional songs by taking liberties with the arrangements and smothering the vocals. What a delight then to put on this recording and immediately be seduced by the honeyed tones of Kellie While on an acapella rendition of “Christ Was Born In Bethlehem”. Of course, the addition of Simon Nicol (Guitars/Vocals), Ashley Hutchings (Bass Guitar/Vocals), Simon Care (Melodeon/Percussion) and special guest Will Pound on harmonica helps to drive the rest of the tracks without any need of indulgence with the possible exception of Roland Orzabal’s “Mad World”. This beautifully understated performance with While providing the vocals and Nicol’s subtle guitar picking should see it grace the top of the charts…if we had a real one to speak of…and in my humble opinion is every bit as good as Garry Jules take on the same song in 2003. An Albion Christmas wouldn’t be complete without some ‘readings’ and, coupled with the fact the band have included the jaunty “Obvious Jig” by the sadly missed Nigel Chippendale this is a recording that I will keep returning to long after Christmas is over. Now…somebody please pass me my brandy and mince pie(s).