A Festive Breath Of Fresh Air: A Listen To A Very Chilly Christmas From Chilly Gonzales

2020 has been a curious time for ye olde Christmas album. There have not been your customary compilations of the hit parade from past times, but more re-workings and a completely fresh approach to those festive classics that so many hold dear. Selecting musical keys for the evoking of emotions is an area where pianist and all-round inspired wizard Chilly Gonzales savours familiarity. So, it makes sense for him to express the holidays in his remarkable way, hence his gifting of album A Very Chilly Christmas, out November 13th.

As the entertainer entertains in his robe and slips, he opens the door to his sleigh for us to feel a hearty array of nostalgia, richness and majesty, all tenderly done. But, as Gonzales has stated, this period can prompt thought of the sadness we have endured. The loses, the fails, the tribulations. So presenting his versions in a minor key creates a more realistic idea of our celebrations without losing any of the enchantment.

Off we go to Austria for a waltz with Silent Night, the dense bass notes laying out the picture until we reach our precious strings. A lift in mood arrives just near close, giving a glimpse to light at the end of a tunnel. Those bass notes hold the rhythm as the strings sing the melody for the interpretation of O Come All Ye Faithful, commanding the room and played with zeal, the evergreen smell of spice and orange in the air, flames dancing at a roaring Georgian feast.

And from traditional ditties, we arrive at pop moments too, with the radiant rendition of Last Christmas and a glance at All I Want For Christmas. You have to have Mariah at Christmas; it says in the rules. Some guests you may know, come a caroling the door, Jarvis Cocker and Feist no less, for a soothing reworking of Snow Is Falling in Manhattan, originally by Purple Mountains, the two tones of the voice entwining and falling from the sky such as snowflakes. Feist appears again in The Banister Bough sprinkling Hollywood glamour.

Lyrics removed, and choral oohs and ahhs replace them in We Three Kings, and Auld Lang Mynor exudes Parisian class. The fifteen tracks in total, including Silver Bells, Good King Wenceslas, and In The Bleak Midwinter, with Cocker's spoken word, offer us a moment of much-needed calmness in what can manifest into a period of hysteria. This record can be sad at times, but it is beautifully sad and does not leave you feeling blue. It leaves you serene, chilled and reflective, take a deep breath with Chilly; add to your Christmas repertoire now.

Article by Beverley Knight