The singer has released his first Christmas album – but is it worth a listen?

There comes a point in every singer’s career in which releasing a Christmas album seems inevitable – but with his first festive release, Gary Barlow is able to show that it is possible to release a Christmas album and still make it distinctive.

The key of course lies in the arrangements of familiar songs such as ‘It’s The Most Wonderful Time of The Year’ and ‘Wonderful Christmastime’ for example reveal a new perspective of the lyrics and music – without taking anything away from the original. Songs such as these are really pleasing to listen to.

But what is equally important on this album is the way in which it is ensured that the orchestra and the musicians are right at the centre of it as well. This is particularly evident on the jazzy renditions of ‘Sleigh Ride’ and his collaboration with The Puppini Sisters on ‘Winter Wonderland’ that really stand out – both songs really lift the energy levels that can on occasion be lacking elsewhere.

The whole album however does exude in cosiness and warmth throughout – even with the touches of melancholy that can be found as heard on ‘Merry Christmas Everyone’. Songs such as ‘My Dear Acquaintance’ and ‘The Dream of Christmas’ have a charm and elegance about them that highlight the careful and sincere way in which this album has been created.

It has to be said that one of the album’s main strengths is that it is not simply made up of festive songs that we have heard many versions of over the years – but also features some original songs that allow Barlow to show off his song writing skills to the full. In particular, his duet with Sheridan Smith on ‘How Christmas is Supposed to be’ and ‘Christmas Sweater’ (only available on the deluxe version of the album) are both really fun songs to listen to. It will be nice to have more new songs written about the festive season for us all to listen to in the future – so other singe/songwriters please take note.

Overall, this is an album that is perfect to listen to when you are just cozying up around the fire at the end of the day with the family. It is gently enjoyable.

By Emma Clarendon

The Dream of Christmas is available to buy and download now.

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐