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Jennifer Saran Jennifer Saran
Album: Soulful Christmas
Label: Tarpan
Tracks: 17

You do not need to look at the calendar to see that it is November as a plethora of Christmas albums are issued. Last night, ITV showed three consecutive adverts advertising Christmas albums. Having admitted in reviewing Katie Melua's album at this time last year that I do not like these festive offerings, I ask myself why I have agreed to review two more. The answer is quite simple. I really like the voices of the two ladies that I am about to review.

Before I am accused of being a miserable old curmudgeon I should say that I love this time of year but do not like the over commercialism that is now attached to it. I also love Christmas carols but prefer them to be sung in the open air by a number of children and adults celebrating the joy of this magical time. Having said that, let's get on with the review!

This first of my two reviews is about Jennifer Saran's latest album "Soulful Christmas." I knew very little about Jennifer before reviewing her last album "Wake Up" which I really enjoyed. She is an interesting Hong Kong based lady and a talented singer songwriter with a voice that suits perfectly this style of festive music.

"Soulful Christmas" opens with a fabulous version of "Christmas Lover" with Jennifer being supported by Otis Williams and The Temptations and a wonderful bit of tenor sax. It certainly sets the mood for the rest of the album. Some of the tracks are fairly predictable and which no festive album would be complete without. "Sleigh Ride" and "Frosty The Snowman" are two examples of this. Throw in a couple of traditional Christmas carols and you have the foundation for the music on offer here.

Unlike many Christmas albums, this one is not just full of Yuletide traditional music and it is so much better for being so. "Long Road Home For Christmas" is a lovely song which includes mention of John Lennon and describes the journey that so many people will be taking in a few weeks' time. "Some Children See Him" embodies the magic of this time of year through the eyes of a child.

One of my favourite tracks is the self-penned "One More Christmas Together." Perhaps a bit slushy for some tastes but for an old romantic like me, it is just perfect. The penultimate track is "You Are My Christmas Star" which ramps up both the beat and the volume. A sort of disco carol!

One of the downsides of a Christmas album is that playing it on a beach holiday in July feels rather odd; or in fact playing it at any other time than December. Having said that, there are enough songs on this that will be pretty unfamiliar to fans of festive carols. So many in fact that it will not feel too out of time to listen to it later in the year.

This delightful and beautifully produced album was released on 24th November and is most certainly worth a listen.

Rory Stanbridge