TIM READMAN & ANDY COOKE – The 12 Hits Of Christmas (Big City)

The 12 Hits Of ChristmasYou have to laugh sometimes. Well, I did when I read the somewhat tongue in cheek notes that came with The 12 Hits Of Christmas, a new album of festive songs by musician/producers Tim Readman from Vancouver and Andy Cooke from Portland ME. The story goes like this – bear with me here – having decided that what the world needed was a new batch of Christmas songs, they analysed more than 27,000 hits to determine what makes for perfect Christmas songs. This is called “putting the anal back into analysis”.

It got my attention and now we’ll leave the jokes behind because The 12 Hits Of Christmas is actually quite fun in a gentle, happy way. It opens with ‘Festive Prelude/The Light Will Return’; the prelude featuring tubular bells and the song harking back to pre-Christmas ideas about the shortest day of the year and reassuring us that the sun will indeed return. ‘Christmas Gift’ is a modern love song but, interestingly, both songs have the feel of Christmas carols somewhere in the distance.

The musical experience of Tim and Andy ranges over prog, pop, folk, Celtic, metal and electronica but, fear not, there’s no head-banging here. ‘Inside The Snow Globe’ has hints of electronics and ‘Santa’s Sleigh Shanty’ requires no further explanation. ‘Christmas Soul’ is funky in a gentle way and ‘Christmas Yuletide Holidays’ is a festive spelling bee that stretches the idea a bit too far although the acoustic guitar accompaniment is rather good. ‘Be Good This Christmas’ is an exhortation to be excellent to each other while ‘In Time Of Winter’ verges on EDM. ‘Rudolph Robot’ is silly synth-pop, ‘Christmas Dances’ has us back on the dancefloor and ‘Christmas Without You’ is a yearning love song – a lush ballad. Finally, ‘One More Circle’ returns us to some of the ideas expressed in the first song as we welcome a new year.

The 12 Hits Of Christmas is a clever album, perhaps too clever in places. You might feel that Tim and Andy are showing off a bit but they have succeeded in walking a fine line between festive sentimentality and serious messages and all without scaring the reindeer. Given their talent and experience I could have taken a bit more edge here and there but, hey ho, it is Christmas after all.

Dai Jeffries

Artists’ website: www.timreadman.com

‘Christmas Dances’  – official video:

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