Amy Kakoura's haunting lead vocals give several songs the tingle factor, most notably 'Emmanuel' and the beautiful Clannad-style arrangement of 'A Northern Winter Night', written by Paul Cartledge. Durrant also makes excellent use of the singing of his eight-year-old son Felix and the no-holds-barred enthusiasm of the choir of St Nicolas and St Mary's Primary School, Shoreham-by-Sea, in songs he has written for his local church Nativity over the last 17 years.
Indeed, 'more is more' on many tracks as the Sussex guitar maestro allies his revered technique to every bell and whistle he can lay his hands on in his studio. Hammond organ, harpsichord, piano, cello, mandolins, ukulele and recorders are heard alongside Durrant's beloved guitars (oh - and sleigh bells...). And just when you think the Christmas mix cannot get any richer, up pops the gravelly voice of comedy legend Barry Cryer on 'The Polar Bear'. The 'I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue' star this time plays it straight, reciting haiku verse in Durrant's moving depiction of a mother bear and her cubs' desperate swim for food and survival through the Arctic ice floes. This piece was inspired by the well-documented plight of the bears as their Arctic environment continues to change.
'I always wanted to make a Christmas album that could explain everything that Christmas means to me. As with most people, that's a lot to ask. My album would have to describe the magic that I still feel on Christmas Eve, a belief in Father Christmas and the Christmas story and the power of the solstice (so perfectly described in Moominland Midwinter). I would have to try to capture the poignant, midwinter sadness of missing those no longer with us, and the excitement of children that enables a parent to once again feel the absolute joy that Christmas brings. As I'm still in that wonderful stage of my life where our young children are still at home and family Christmas is at its strongest - now was the time to make my album.' Richard Durrant