Multi-talented singer, writer, performer and critically acclaimed artist Collette Cooper has unveiled the second instalment of her Christmas series, Darkside Of Christmas Chapter 2. The captivating EP, officially released on Thelonious Punk Records, offers a unique and alternative take on the familiar deluge of yuletide projects.
Darkside of Christmas Chapter 2 follows the release of Darkside Of Christmas Chapter 1 (2022) and takes a more poignant approach, reflecting the current political and social climate shaped by national and global events. Both records skilfully explore themes of love, loss and empathy all wrapped in satirical wit, edgy humour and exceptional musicianship.
Collette’s emotive and unmistakable voice can take you from heartbreak to heavenly tones in an instant. She has graced some of the UK’s most prestigious music venues like the Roundhouse, Ronnie Scott’s, Jazz Cafe and the legendary 100 Club. Her music enjoys regular airplay on BBC Radio 6 Music, Jazz FM, BBC Radio 2 and other stations around the world.
Collette recently brought the magic of both chapters to life with a special performance at the beautiful Grade II listed Rosslyn Hill Chapel in London’s Hampstead, backed by a stellar lineup of leading UK jazz musicians. This ensemble, including Sam Taylor on piano, Kevin Davy on trumpet, Daniel Malek on bass, Jan Simson on drums, Jack Parry on guitar, the Kings Voices Choir led by Simon King and the string quarter, Show Strings, created an unforgettable night. Special guests included SING!London Gospel Choir (BBC Gospel Choir of the Year) and acclaimed singer-songwriter Savannah Gardner.
Chapter 2 begins with an exquisite poem penned by Collette, recited by award-winning British actor, Maxine Peake. This introduction sets the scene for the haunting original composition When The Snow Falls.
Lost Soul, Collette’s 2020 single, is also reinvented with a gospel-inflected a cappella opening that seamlessly transforms into a vibrant funk-blues experience entitled Lost Soul (Peace Of Mind).
Closing the collection is Collette’s unique rendition of the classic Coventry Carol, echoing themes of war and strife that ominously parallel today’s headlines.
While the themes could delve into the sombre, Darkside of Christmas Chapter 2 is far from bleak. The overall sentiment is one of uplifting spirituality and hope, interlaced with a devil-may-care party spirit.
This is a classy, beautifully performed Christmas record; one that resonates with the emotions people are experiencing around global events, the impact of the UK’s cost-of-living crisis and the emotional burden of loneliness during the festive season. Nevertheless, listening to Collette’s voice is also incredibly uplifting and like a glass of festive tonic for the soul; every track on Darkside of Chapter 2 brims with joy.
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 stands out as a distinctive and stylish work.
A very welcome addition to my collection of timeless Christmas classics.
Words by Nicola Greenbrook.