Gary Barlow’s The Dream of Christmas: What You Need To Know
Ah, the Christmas album. Almost as sure the arrival at this time of year as Santa Claus himself, the humble festive LP is a tradition that spans decades and genres. Whether you’re into Frank Sinatra or Johnny Cash, The Beach Boys or Snoop Dogg, there’s a Christmas album out there to cover every musical style imaginable.
This year it’s the turn of Take That’s chief creative force Gary Barlow to try his hand at some yuletide classics, with a new album arriving in stores this week that includes a mixture of original songs and cover versions of established festive favourites – with a handful of special guests thrown in for good measure.
The Dream of Christmas slides down the chimney and onto our shelves this Friday (November 26) – here’s everything you need to know…
A little background…
Barlow began writing some of the original compositions on the album during the lockdown months of 2020, but soon found himself working through a few festive cover versions too: "It was a really hard Christmas for so many because of the scenario we all found ourselves in," Barlow said in a statement announcing the new album in October. "So to try and make things a bit special, I started writing these songs.
"I had never listened to those classic Christmas songs with the idea of singing them myself, but as this record evolved, so did my appreciation for these wonderful songs. It all started off as a bit of a dalliance in the studio and before I knew it, I had a whole album!”
Who’s producing it?
All of the tracks have been recorded at Barlow’s own studio, with the man himself overseeing production duties.
Any special guests?
Sheridan Smith duets with Barlow on ‘How Christmas Is Supposed to Be’ and the Puppini Sisters add their vocal harmonies to ‘Winter Wonderland’. There’s also a guest appearance from Aled Jones, whose distinctive voice can be heard on ‘A Child’s Christmas in Wales’ – a song adapted from a Dylan Thomas poem – while cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason applies his nimble touch on ‘The Colder It Feels’.
What does it sound like?
Well, festive, obviously. There are toe-tapping renditions of Paul McCartney’s ‘Wonderful Christmastime’ and ‘Winter Wonderland’, to which the Puppini Sisters add a pleasantly retro zing, while Barlow also delivers an impressive take on Donny Hathaway’s 1970 classic ‘This Christmas’.
Some of the original compositions here shine too, with Kanneh-Mason’s cello work adding depth to ‘The Colder It Feels’ and the Sheridan Smith-featuring single ‘How Christmas Is Supposed To Be’ offering the auditory equivalent of a glass of mulled wine by a roaring fire.
Does it deliver?
If you’re a Take That fan who fancies some festive tunes over the holidays then, really, what’s not to like? From the cheesy fun of ‘Wonderful Christmastime’ to the more poignant moments like ‘The Colder It Feels’ and ‘A Child’s Christmas in Wales’, there’s plenty to enjoy about Gary Barlow’s worthy contribution to this long-running tradition, which arrives just in time to provide the ideal soundtrack for putting up your decorations.
The Dream of Christmas is available in hmv stores from November 26 - you can also find it here in our online store.