If I am to be completely honest, I hate Christmas music. It’s often the greatest source of my personal irritation during the jolly season. That said, Kim Wilde’s first album in over a decade shows that an artist can get a Christmas release very right.

The album is sparse in its musical arrangement, removing the overproduced jingly feel too often evident in Christmas recordings. Wilde has taken a new approach by choosing to include a bunch of originals with just a smattering of well-known holiday hits.

The album opens with a superb duet of ‘Winter Wonderland’ with fellow ’80s chart topper Rick Astley. On paper this looks like an unusual vocal match but it is in fact very classy. The smooth-as-silk Astley blends perfectly with Wilde’s pure pop to give that warm cosy feeling like a good Christmas song should.

From this point on we are taken on a seasonal journey via the heart of Wilde. The songs written or co-written by the singer are personal and honest. They are carefully dispersed throughout the track listing and bring messages of hope, joy and reflection while never losing the thread of the story of Christmas.

Wilde Winter Songbook is a family affair with Wilde’s father, brother, niece and husband all lending their talents to the project, as does Wilde’s recent Australian tour companion, Nik Kershaw, on ‘Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree’.

This is the first Christmas album that has allowed me to completely lose myself in the romance of Christmas. Wilde Winter Songbook is a nice way to be transported to a place where it snows at Christmas and family and friends gather to sing by the fire.

4/5 stars

BY KAREN WATERS

Wilde Winter Songbook is out now through Public Opinion/MGM.

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