The Dream of Christmas (Deluxe)
Three decades into his reign as one of British pop’s most successful and beloved singers and songwriters, Gary Barlow delivers his first Christmas album. Featuring collaborations with swing specialists The Puppini Sisters and classical star Sheku Kanneh-Mason, as well as a gorgeous setting of Dylan Thomas’ A Child’s Christmas in Wales, it’s a diverse and suitably uplifting set. The season begins in traditional style, with a richly orchestrated title track that watches “children’s eyes light up again”, before Barlow serves up his take on “Sleigh Ride” with a warming dollop of swing. He’s not shy of diverting from the classic trimmings though. On “How Christmas Is Supposed To Be”, a two-hander with West End royalty Sheridan Smith, a domestic quarrel plays out against vibrant ’80s pop. And after the duo calls a ceasefire for the big day, “Come On Christmas” melts away the snow so that Barlow’s broken-souled search for salvation can be carried across sprightly island rhythms.