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Twelve Tales Of Christmas

Tom Chaplin Twelve Tales Of Christmas CDA year after the release of his debut solo effort, Keane frontman Tom Chaplin returned just in time for the 2017 holiday season with Twelve Tales of Christmas. Unlike typical celebratory seasonal releases, Tales instead focuses on a wide range of emotions that can bubble up during the holidays, from the joy and mirth to the loneliness and sorrow. Oftentimes bittersweet and contemplative, the album is ideal for quiet moments near a crackling fireplace with the lights of a Christmas tree casting a soft glow. Produced by David Kosten, Tales includes eight original songs and four covers. The best of that latter bunch include a sweeping interpretation of the Howard Blake-penned theme from the beloved animated film The Snowman, which was originally sung by choirboy Peter Auty and popularized by Aled Jones. Chaplin perfectly captures the melancholy of the original with a stripped-back production and moving vocal delivery. In addition to a simple take on the Pretenders' "2000 Miles" and a soothing version of Joni Mitchell's "River" -- which features an unexpectedly haunting outro that is the most musically daring moment on an otherwise safe album -- Chaplin also resurrects early-'90s U.K. boy band East 17 on "Stay Another Day." His original compositions can be somewhat corny, but they're nonetheless evocative and hit the proper emotional buttons when necessary. Sometimes saccharine, these soft rock ditties ("Under a Million Lights" and "London Lights") sound destined for an eternity on Christmastime soundtracks at shopping malls across Britain. When Chaplin gets serious, Tales becomes quite mournful. "We Remember You This Christmas" is touching and earnest, as heartbreaking as "Bedshaped" without being as devastating. "For the Lost" and "Another Lonely Christmas" also play into the plaintive side of the holiday season, acknowledging tough times and solitude. "Say Goodbye" is the gloomiest track on the album, a final tale that is ideal for anyone wanting to dwell in sadness on an already emotional holiday.

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