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Jess and The BanditsJess and The Bandits
Album: Always Christmas Eve
Label: After Midnight Girl
Tracks: 4

2017 has been a petty great year for Jess and The Bandits. First, the release of their highly anticipated new CD, Smoke and Mirrors. Then Jess' upcoming wedding to Chris Peavey. As if that wasn't enough for one year, the band have just released their debut EP, titled Always Christmas Eve.

I couldn't not comment on the beautiful cover artwork, featuring branches and lights, it is one of the most inviting Christmas album covers I've ever seen.

Featured on the album are four U.K. country acts; Laura Oakes, Kevin McGuire, Gary Quinn and Luke Thomas, who, rumour has it, will be joining the band on some of their February tour dates.

The EP features four tracks, both modern and traditional Christmas songs. The title track, an original song written by Gary Quinn and David Banning, demonstrates just how well Jess' vocal is suited to a Christmas sound. Gary Quinn's vocals offer a great harmony as well as solo duet parts.

Wrapped in Red, featuring harmonies from Luke Thomas, has a more classic country sound, as does Baby It's Cold Outside, which features Kevin McGuire.

My favourite however, is a song I've always loved; O Holy Night, a duet with Laura Oakes. The song is perfectly suited to Jess' vocals and it seems, Laura's. Delivered right, this is the perfect Christmas song.

I hope this may prompt a full Christmas CD next year, but in the meanwhile I am very much looking forward to seeing Jess and The Bandits, with another UK country star, Chloe Chadwick, at Sage Gateshead on February 14th. Is that too late for Christmas songs?

Helen Mitchell