Joss Stone – Merry Christmas, Love review: Hark, Devon’s angel sings

There’s Sir Cliff, of course, the Bocellis and Gloria Estefan’s Estefan Family Christmas. Even The Muppets’ Christmas Carol is being reissued as a 30th anniversary picture disc.

Neil Diamond has repackaged four previous holiday releases for a 24-track vinyl double album (also available on CD), mixing covers including John Lennon’s Happy Christmas (War Is Over) with originals like Cherry Cherry Christmas.

But perhaps the most rewarding offer is from Joss Stone. The Devon-born star with a voice bigger than Buckfast Abbey delivers veritable crackers fueled by gospel, soul and zest.

The 16-track album kicks off with a short, mood-setting recital of The Night Before Christmas and then kicks off with a scintillating Let It Snow, snowballing with oodles of innocent joy.

Standout numbers include a gloriously soulful version of Hark The Herald Angels Sing, What Christmas Means To Me with a 1960s Motown twist, and a sweet, dreamy version of Winter Wonderland. Silent Night’s lush ending is beautiful enough to melt Scrooge’s icy heart.

It takes skill and real talent to make familiar songs sound so soulfully fresh. A cool Yule indeed.

Two Stone originals sit comfortably among the favourites, including Jingle Bells, Let It Snow and Oh Little Town Of Bethlehem: the plaintive If You Believe and the soulful ballad Bring On Christmas Day, which celebrates Joss’s lifelong love of the vacation period.

“Just bring in Christmas day, cast away your fears,” she sings, capturing the Christmas spirit. “And what if it’s cold? The Christmas tree is shining.”

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