Following on from 2022’s impactful Darkside of Christmas Chapter 1, Collette Cooper, known for her individual, unmistakable voice returns this festive season with Darkside of Christmas Chapter 2 (Thelonious Punk Records.)
Reflecting the current political and social environment caused by the impact of national and global events, Darkside Of Christmas Chapters 1 & 2 takes a more poignant approach to the seasonal album, aiming to recognise the recent difficulties that have been felt by many around the world, touching on themes of love, loss and empathy, tied together with wry wit, edgy humour and outstanding musicianship.
While the theme may at first appear saturnine, Darkside Of Christmas’ ultimate sentiment is an uplifting feeling of spirituality and hope, laced with a devil-may-care party spirit designed to unify those who feel that the hour of ‘forced fun’ is upon them. Songs such as ‘Run Santa Baby’, sees old Saint Nick feeling the pinch of frostbite, while Cooper’s rendition of ‘What A Wonderful World’ (recorded live in one take) sails over the sound of an old honky-tonk piano with the odd broken key, conjuring the essence of a singalong around the fire after a few too many glasses of Christmas spirit.
A more personal sentiment is projected on the original track ‘Another Day’ – dedicated to Collette’s best friend Claire Bonham, who unexpectedly passed away in March 2020 (the last time they spent time together was New Year’s Day 2020), while the classic jazz standard ‘It Ain’t Necessarily So’ is given a unique treatment with the addition of the melody from ‘Carol Of The Bells’.
The final jewel in the crown is the addition of legendary British actor Ray Winstone, who introduces the album by reciting a compelling, original poem by Collette Cooper, setting the tone for what is to come.
Chapter 2 opens with another Cooper-penned poem, this time recited by award winning, gritty British actor, Maxine Peake to start the haunting original composition ‘When the Snow Falls’.
Chapter 2 sees Cooper reinvent her single from 2020, Lost Soul, with a gospel inflected a cappella opening followed by a full-on funk-blues experience entitled Lost Soul (Piece of Mind).
The final new track ends the project like it began with Cooper’s unique take on an old Carol, this time being ‘Coventry Carol’ whose theme of war and strife is a chilling echo of today’s headlines and given that it was recorded in September it is an eerie example of art predicting life.
Said Collette: ‘A lot of love, blood, sweat, tears, and snow has gone into this album.’
Recorded at Abbey Road and Dean Street Studios, (Collette’s body of work is mostly recorded live in one or two takes) with original artwork by the acclaimed photographer Rankin, Darkside Of Christmas Chapters 1 & 2 is a distinctive and stylish work, destined to indulge all of this years’ Scrooges and maybe a few Tiny Tim’s for good measure!