Album Review | Self Release | Review by Marc Higgins | Stars: 4/5
Yvonne Lyon is a hard working, constantly evolving artist, with three completely different releases in the last two years. The latest of these is Songs for Christmas a set of festive songs. Don’t let my tardiness in reviewing due to weight of pre-season releases, put you off, this is a fine album by a strong vocalist and musician. The collection brings together five original songs and seven reworked traditional songs. “Oh Holy Night” features Yvonne in fine voice, serene and centre stage over David Lyon’s piano and some electronics. A little layering on the voice is as perfect as fresh snow and just as uplifting. Her arrangement of “In The Bleak Midwinter” is similarly serene and perfect, subtle backing vocals and sophisticated backing carry another perfect vocal. These two are definitely on my Christmas Folk Playlist for next year.
“O Come O Come Emmanuel” has the most slight electronic atmospherics, strings and piano carrying a stunning vocal from Yvonne, at turns eerie and transcendental, this is another strong track. “Away In A Manger” is a bright upbeat folk take on the hymn. The swelled voices on the chorus and Scott Wood’s whistles are an uplifting touch. “If I Can’t Be Home For Christmas” and “Peace On Earth” with singalong choruses, touches of brass and spiritual vocals sounds like possible Christmas hits, with just a touch of Thea Gilmour melancholy. “See Amid The Winter’s Snow” has that rich folk pop sound and big acoustic guitar chords like Greg Lake’s “I Believe In Father Christmas”. It’s another earworm tune that gets into your head as is “I Believe In Christmas” a song that moves from real observations of Scottish shoppers to bigger themes. It’s a great song with a fine vocal and thoughtful lyrics hidden by a good tune and singalong chorus. “Joy To The World” is a superb upbeat folk version of the hymn, lively and infectious. “Hold Me Christmas” and “Dear December” are big Christmas ballads, as strong and as hummable as festive songs by Paul McCartney and Jonah Lewie that are now definitely Canon and on a million compilations. Yvonne Lyon has a strong voice and a fine ability to put together songs. This is a strong collection that covers both the reflective and celebratory aspects of Christmas period perfectly. Slip this on next December and people will singalong and greet these songs like classics and old friends.