With a clear voice and strong, lilting harmonies, Ange Hardy rings in the new year with When Christmas Day Is Near - a warm-hearted, deft snapshot of her talent.
The title song paints very traditional Christmas images - red and white gold-trimmed stockings, mistletoe, children running eagerly to their bed and praying by candlelight - that might run the risk of becoming cliché in the wrong hands.
There’s no fear of that here, however, as Ange Hardy delivers the lyrics with playful precision, her voice (both solo and in layered harmonies) as crisp as fresh snow. It’s a joy to hear such "true delight" (a line from the chorus) in her singing.
William Frend, from Ange Hardy’s latest album Esteesee, is the only accompanied song (as well as her guitar, it features backing vocals, viola and double bass from Steve Pledger, Steve Knightley, Patsy Reid and Lukas Drinkwater). Inspired by the life of Samuel Coleridge, liberty and equality are strong themes throughout.
Finally, Solidarity, a short two-line piece, was written after the Paris attacks this year. Completely unaccompanied, it is sung powerfully and respectfully. Written "with heavy heart and hopeful soul", it hits hard.
Whether for a little hope and solidarity at the darkest time of year, or whether simply for the love of the festive season, you cannot fail to add these songs to your Christmas list.Sol Loreto-Miller
Released on 10th December 2015 on Story Records Limited.
All songs written, performed and produced by Ange Hardy.
See www.angehardy.com/christmas for more details.
1. When Christmas Day is Near
2. William Frend