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Annie Lennox - A Christmas Cornucopia

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A Christmas Cornucopia

Annie Lennox

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Most artists treat Christmas albums as toss-offs; something to get into the marketplace and have on the shelf when punters come in and snap up the holiday offerings. There is usually little forethought, production and arrangements are entrusted to studio stalwarts who paint by numbers. Annie Lennox doesn't fit this mold remotely. She considered a Christmas Cornucopia with all the intuitive care and devotion her other studio albums reflect. Lennox spent much of her youth singing in choirs, and that is reflected in both the song selection (all but one of these she sang as a child in choir) and arrangements. Working once more with producer Mike Stevens (who also helmed the sessions for her last offering, 2007's Songs of Mass Destruction), Lennox recorded many of the choral vocals herself by overdubbing. The pair did employ a 30-piece orchestra; they also recorded the African Children's Choir who are prominently featured throughout, especially on "The Holly and the Ivy" and the French carol "Il Est de le Divin Enfant." Textures and atmospheres are the name of the game in these interpretations, and they're employed in unusual ways: note the Middle Eastern rhythms and modalities on "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" that collide -- albeit harmoniously -- with Celtic pipe, flute, and accordion sounds. It's a fantastic track, though it does engender a minor complaint: why on earth would a vocalist of Lennox's caliber use Auto-Tune even momentarily? Other standouts here include the majestic "The Holly and the Ivy," the sparse instrumentation on "In the Bleak Midwinter," and the the dramatic darkness in the obscure carol "Lullay Lullay" that tells the Christian story of King Herod's infanticide in trying to eliminate the threat posed by the Christ child. "Silent Night" and "O Little Town of Bethlehem" are given wonderful arrangements and sung with a sincerity approaching absolute devotion, especially with the African Children's Choir underscoring Lennox's voice. The lone original here, "Universal Child," is the lead single (proceeds are being donated to the Annie Lennox Foundation); it's a beautifully written and arranged pop song, delivered soulfully and enigmatically; it is worth the price of the album itself. A Christmas Cornucopia is a real contender for best Christmas album of 2010.
© Thom Jurek /TiVo

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A Christmas Cornucopia

Annie Lennox

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1
Angels From The Realms of Glory
00:03:59

Mike Stevens, Producer, Arranger, Keyboards, Work Arranger, AssociatedPerformer - Mark Stevens, Percussion, AssociatedPerformer - Traditional, Composer - Annie Lennox, Producer, Arranger, Piano, Work Arranger, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer

℗ 2010 La Lennoxa, under exclusive license to Universal Island Records Ltd. A Universal Music Company

2
God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen
00:03:31

Mike Stevens, Producer, Arranger, Work Arranger, AssociatedPerformer, Bass (Vocal) - Mark Stevens, Percussion, AssociatedPerformer - Traditional, ComposerLyricist - Annie Lennox, Producer, Arranger, Whistle, Work Arranger, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Heff Moraes, Additional Mixer, StudioPersonnel - Barry van Zyl, Percussion, AssociatedPerformer

℗ 2010 La Lennoxa, under exclusive license to Universal Island Records Ltd. A Universal Music Company

3
See Amid The Winter's Snow
00:03:30

Mike Stevens, Producer, Arranger, Acoustic Guitar, Work Arranger, AssociatedPerformer - Mark Stevens, Percussion, AssociatedPerformer - Traditional, ComposerLyricist - Annie Lennox, Producer, Arranger, Piano, Work Arranger, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer

℗ 2010 La Lennoxa, under exclusive license to Universal Island Records Ltd. A Universal Music Company

4
Il Est Ne Le Divin Enfant
00:03:36

Mike Stevens, Producer, Arranger, Work Arranger, AssociatedPerformer, Bass (Vocal) - Mark Stevens, African Percussion, AssociatedPerformer - Traditional, ComposerLyricist - Annie Lennox, Producer, Arranger, Piano, Work Arranger, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - African Children's Choir, Vocals, AssociatedPerformer - Barry von Zyl, African Percussion, AssociatedPerformer

℗ 2010 La Lennoxa, under exclusive license to Universal Island Records Ltd. A Universal Music Company

5
The First Noel
00:04:39

Mike Stevens, Producer, Arranger, Acoustic Guitar, Work Arranger, AssociatedPerformer - Traditional, ComposerLyricist - Annie Lennox, Producer, Arranger, Piano, Work Arranger, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer

℗ 2010 La Lennoxa, under exclusive license to Universal Island Records Ltd. A Universal Music Company

6
Lullay Lullay (Coventry Carol)
00:03:12

Mike Stevens, Producer, Arranger, Work Arranger, AssociatedPerformer, Bass (Vocal) - Mark Stevens, Percussion, AssociatedPerformer - Traditional, ComposerLyricist - Annie Lennox, Producer, Arranger, Keyboards, Work Arranger, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - African Children's Choir, Vocals, AssociatedPerformer - Barry von Zyl, Percussion, AssociatedPerformer

℗ 2010 La Lennoxa, under exclusive license to Universal Island Records Ltd. A Universal Music Company

7
The Holly And The Ivy
00:03:37

Mike Stevens, Producer, Arranger, Work Arranger, AssociatedPerformer, Bass (Vocal) - Mark Stevens, Percussion, AssociatedPerformer - Traditional, ComposerLyricist - Annie Lennox, Producer, Arranger, Piano, Work Arranger, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - African Children's Choir, Vocals, AssociatedPerformer

℗ 2010 La Lennoxa, under exclusive license to Universal Island Records Ltd. A Universal Music Company

8
In The Bleak Midwinter
00:03:30

Mike Stevens, Producer, Arranger, Keyboards, Work Arranger, AssociatedPerformer - Traditional, ComposerLyricist - Annie Lennox, Producer, Arranger, Keyboards, Work Arranger, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer

℗ 2010 La Lennoxa, under exclusive license to Universal Island Records Ltd. A Universal Music Company

9
As Joseph Was A Walking
00:03:58

Mike Stevens, Producer, Arranger, Work Arranger, AssociatedPerformer, Bass (Vocal) - Traditional, ComposerLyricist - Annie Lennox, Producer, Arranger, Piano, Work Arranger, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - African Children's Choir, Vocals, AssociatedPerformer - Barry van Zyl, Percussion, AssociatedPerformer

℗ 2010 La Lennoxa, under exclusive license to Universal Island Records Ltd. A Universal Music Company

10
Oh Little Town Of Bethlehem
00:03:32

Mike Stevens, Producer, Arranger, Acoustic Guitar, Work Arranger, AssociatedPerformer - Traditional, ComposerLyricist - Annie Lennox, Producer, Arranger, Piano, Vocals, Work Arranger, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - African Children's Choir, Vocals, AssociatedPerformer

℗ 2010 La Lennoxa, under exclusive license to Universal Island Records Ltd. A Universal Music Company

11
Silent Night
00:03:47

Mike Stevens, Producer, Arranger, Work Arranger, AssociatedPerformer, Bass (Vocal) - Traditional, ComposerLyricist - Annie Lennox, Producer, Arranger, Piano, Work Arranger, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - African Children's Choir, Vocals, AssociatedPerformer

℗ 2010 La Lennoxa, under exclusive license to Universal Island Records Ltd. A Universal Music Company

12
Universal Child
00:04:13

Mike Stevens, Producer, String Arranger, Bass Guitar, Hammond Organ, Percussion, AssociatedPerformer - Annie Lennox, Producer, String Arranger, Keyboards, Piano, Vocals, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - African Children's Choir, Vocals, FeaturedArtist, AssociatedPerformer

℗ 2010 La Lennoxa, under exclusive license to Universal Island Records Ltd. A Universal Music Company

Album Description

Most artists treat Christmas albums as toss-offs; something to get into the marketplace and have on the shelf when punters come in and snap up the holiday offerings. There is usually little forethought, production and arrangements are entrusted to studio stalwarts who paint by numbers. Annie Lennox doesn't fit this mold remotely. She considered a Christmas Cornucopia with all the intuitive care and devotion her other studio albums reflect. Lennox spent much of her youth singing in choirs, and that is reflected in both the song selection (all but one of these she sang as a child in choir) and arrangements. Working once more with producer Mike Stevens (who also helmed the sessions for her last offering, 2007's Songs of Mass Destruction), Lennox recorded many of the choral vocals herself by overdubbing. The pair did employ a 30-piece orchestra; they also recorded the African Children's Choir who are prominently featured throughout, especially on "The Holly and the Ivy" and the French carol "Il Est de le Divin Enfant." Textures and atmospheres are the name of the game in these interpretations, and they're employed in unusual ways: note the Middle Eastern rhythms and modalities on "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" that collide -- albeit harmoniously -- with Celtic pipe, flute, and accordion sounds. It's a fantastic track, though it does engender a minor complaint: why on earth would a vocalist of Lennox's caliber use Auto-Tune even momentarily? Other standouts here include the majestic "The Holly and the Ivy," the sparse instrumentation on "In the Bleak Midwinter," and the the dramatic darkness in the obscure carol "Lullay Lullay" that tells the Christian story of King Herod's infanticide in trying to eliminate the threat posed by the Christ child. "Silent Night" and "O Little Town of Bethlehem" are given wonderful arrangements and sung with a sincerity approaching absolute devotion, especially with the African Children's Choir underscoring Lennox's voice. The lone original here, "Universal Child," is the lead single (proceeds are being donated to the Annie Lennox Foundation); it's a beautifully written and arranged pop song, delivered soulfully and enigmatically; it is worth the price of the album itself. A Christmas Cornucopia is a real contender for best Christmas album of 2010.
© Thom Jurek /TiVo

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