Following on from 2022’s impactful album Darkside of Christmas Chapter 1, multi-talented singer, writer, performer and critically acclaimed artist Collette Cooper, returns this festive season with Darkside of Christmas Chapter 2, officially released on Thelonious Punk Records on 24 November 2023.
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, and aims to recognise the recent difficulties felt by many around the world. The albums touch upon themes of love, loss and empathy all tied together with wry wit, edgy humour and outstanding musicianship – and the individual, unmistakable voice of Collette.
While the theme may at first appear saturnine, Darkside Of Christmas’s 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.
On Chapter 1, 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.
Check out What A Wonderful World below:
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).
The classic jazz standard 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 including the opening track Silent Night.
Chapter 2 opens with another Collette-penned poem, this time recited by award-winning, gritty British actor, Maxine Peake to begin the haunting original composition When the Snow Falls.
Collette’s 2020 single Lost Soul is reinvented 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. Coventry Carol, whose theme of war and strife is a chilling echo of today’s headlines (and given that it was recorded in September) is an eerie example of art predicting life.
Speaking about the record, Collette says, “A lot of love, blood, sweat, tears, and snow has gone into this album.” Recorded at London’s Abbey Road Studios and Dean Street Studios (Collette’s body of work is mostly recorded live), 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 year’s Scrooges and maybe a few Tiny Tim’s for good measure!
For more information, please contact Thelonious Punk Records: email@example.com
Collette Cooper will be treating us to a live performance on 1st December 2023 at Rosslyn Hill Chapel, 3 Pilgrim’s Place, Hampstead, London, NW3 1NG
Words by Nicola Greenbrook.