YVONNE LYON – Songs For Christmas (own label BC112)

Songs For ChristmasContinuing to add to this year’s musical Christmas tree, Lyon brings her Celtic folk influences to a collection of self-penned seasonal songs and reworked traditional carols, variously accompanied by flugelhorn, fiddle, whistles (Skerryvore’s Scott Wood), accordion and bouzouki. It opens in march beat anthemic mode with her own strumalong ‘Peace On Earth’, the title of which sums up the sentiments, the cascading chords chorus an early foray into audience-friendly sing and way territory, followed in cascading festive ringing bells tones |(and hints of Greg Lake) with ‘See Amid The Winter Snow’ written by Edward Caswall and also known as ‘Hymn For Christmas Day’. The second of the originals comes with the poignant brass-toasted waltzing ‘If I Can’t Be Home For Christmas’ that sounds like it might have come from a Shane MacGowan list of potential follow-ups to his Christmas classic.

It’s back to tried and tested with the tinkling intro, spare piano accompanied ‘O Holy Night’ before dipping into her own past to revive her well-received 2012 anti-consumerism release ‘I Believe In Christmas’ with its ringing bells. Then it’s heads down for a clutch of carols, kicking off with a suitably jubilant, accordion and fiddle bedecked, drum stomping, hand-clapping ‘Joy To The World’, followed by a more sedate, cold and frosty night sounding ‘In The Bleak Midwinter’ and then, Wood on whistle, linking arms for a Celtic folk swayalong take on ‘Away In A Manger’. The last two carols are a quietly spiritual pure-voiced reading of ‘O Come O Come Emmanuel delicately laced with, muted piano, drone and sleigh bells, preceded by another marching beat leading the crowd friendly chorus folk-pop tinged singalong setting of Christina Rosetti’s ‘Love Came Down At Christmas’.

And, since the word hasn’t figured enough, you then get another big catchy pop all join in and wave your arms with ‘Hold Me Christmas’ before laying down an organ backing for the Amy Macdonald/Thea Gilmore-like tumbling hooks of ‘Dear December’ (possibly featuring the most occurrences of the word Christmas in any of the songs). The perfect soundtrack for an unmade Richard Curtis seasonal romcom, wrap the humbug in tinfoil for a while and indulge.

Mike Davies

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Artist’s website: www.yvonnelyonmusic.com