Multi-talented performer Collette Cooper is signed to independent label, Thelonius Punk Records. She has been featured on BBC radio, Jazz FM, and Soho radio as a musician. She has also been the subject of interviews in books and is an actor, recently undertaking a role portraying singer Janis Joplin, in the play (that she also wrote and directed), ‘Tomorrow Maty Be My Last’ to critical acclaim.
Following her release last year of The Darkside of Christmas’ (reviewed on this platform) we now learn that part 1, and part 2 has just been unleashed on the world.
Cooper’s take on Christmas is one of part cynicism, part warmth and love, and part respect and it comes together, in her unique, dramatic, bluesy, worldly way of presenting to the world, her individual take on songs both new and familiar.
The opener ‘When the Snow Falls’ is an eerily dystopic mix of poetry and music. It is introduced by a descriptive poem which is dropped over an eerie backdrop. The narrator’s rich, northern tones are crystal clear. The music then sets up a sashaying rhythm and Cooper relates the coldness on the streets when it snows. Her voice continues to improve year on year her and tones are reminiscent of Hagen in her prime. Using a simple line Cooper manages to imbue the icy energy of the streets at the coldest times of the year. The song is aided immensely by the beautiful tones of the strings that underpin the middle section and weave their way into the number.
‘Lost Soul’ is an acapella number for the first 50 seconds or so, a brave move as the vocals are exposed but Cooper has no problem there and we get to hear the quirky textured vocals of this mercurial songstress. With the entry of the instruments, the number develops into a sassy, swingy, blues-infused number, with organ, guitar, and drums adding textures and layers, while Cooper, perfectly at home in her narrative, soul-baring lines, makes full use of the hefty vocal arrangement. The number suits Cooper’s range and finesse and boy, do we know it.
The Christmas stalwart ‘Coventry Carol’ is given a Cooper-styler twist with a militaristic introduction, and some fantastically arranged spoken lines before Cooper enters with her take on the carol. The words and music worked like this, are possibly clearer than in many chorally arranged workings. The story of the child–slaying that occurred at the birth of the Christ Child is told, its darker implications fully realized,amid the gorgeous arrangement for voice and strings. The style Cooper uses serves to emphasize the underlying dark nuance and meaning of the carol. We see what you did there, Ms Cooper, and you did it so well. Cooper has a voice that sends tremors down to your boots and this is a release where this is fully realised.
A lovely selection of Christmas-not-Christmas music and a great follow-up to part one from last year.