Joss Stone – Merry Christmas, Love review: Hark the Devon angel sings… | Music | Entertainment

There’s Sir Cliff, of course, the Bocellis and Gloria Estefan’s Estefan Family Christmas. Even The Muppets’ Christmas Carol is re-issued as a 30th anniversary picture disc.

Neil Diamond has repackaged four previous festive releases for a 24-track vinyl double album (also available on CD), mixing covers including John Lennon’s Happy Christmas (War Is Over) with originals like Cherry Cherry Christmas.

But perhaps the most rewarding offering is Joss Stone’s. The Devon-born star with a voice bigger than Buckfast Abbey delivers real crackers fuelled by gospel, soul and enthusiasm.

The 16-track album begins with a brief mood-setting recital of The Night Before Christmas then kicks in with a twinkling Let It Snow, packed snowball tight with oodles of innocent joy.

Stand-out numbers include a gloriously soulful version of Hark The Herald Angels Sing, What Christmas Means To Me with a 1960s’ Motown feel, and a sweet, dreamy take on Winter Wonderland. The lush closing Silent Night is beautiful enough to melt Scrooge’s ice-cold heart.

It takes skill and real talent to make familiar songs sound so heartwarmingly fresh. A cool Yule indeed.

Two Stone originals sit comfortably among favourites including Jingle Bells, Let It Snow and Oh Little Town Of Bethlehem – the plaintive If You Believe and heart-warming ballad Bring On Christmas Day, which celebrates Joss’s life-long love of the holiday period.

“Just bring on Christmas Day, throw your fears away,” she sings, capturing the Yuletide spirit. “So what if it’s cold? The Christmas tree is aglow.”

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