"From Spirits and Ghosts (Score for a Dark Christmas)" is the second classical and Christmas album, and the seventh studio album released by the Finnish soprano Tarja Turunen, released 17 November 2017 on the earMUSIC label.
The album includes 11 Christmas classics and brings them to a never before seen level, uniquely blending Tarja“s classically trained voice with darker gothic influences. Utilizing the sound of a grand orchestra, the most successful Finnish solo artist puts a sinister spin on traditional songs like “O Tannenbaum”, “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” and “Feliz Navidad”, reminding the listener of a dark movie score. Besides covering classic carols, “From Spirits and Ghosts” also features a 12th track, the brand new original “Together”. This song is aligned with the dark sound of the album and embodies the theme of ghosts and mysticism throughout, in a brilliant, Tarja-styled manner.
User Album Review
Possessing a sublime classical voice that can effortlessly switch between moods, and a predisposition towards gothic grandeur, guessing how these cover versions will be slanted is a simple task. Critically, though, the arrangements have been a labour of love, as each song is sublimely layered, with the orchestral backdrop providing a suitable match for Turunen’s vocals. There’s also a darkness that permeates, and Turunen has declared that the songs are for those “lonely people that do not find joy in the blinking lights and the jingle bells”. It’s laudable that she’s achieved that aim, as transferring the inherent, upbeat merriment of Feliz Navidad into a brooding, introspective lament isn’t something every artist could achieve.
At times, there’s a claustrophobia that surrounds the songs, with O Come, O Come Emmanuel possessing the aura of a soundtrack for a bleak TV drama about a family lost in a Boxing Day fire. Indeed, that lack of festive cheer could be off-putting to some, but that’s exactly the point. Quite whether the “lonely people” Tarja targets will quite grasp the nuances of the album, rather than calling the Samaritans’ Christmas Helpline, remains to be seen. Deck The Halls resonates with a creepy beauty, and the sole original track, Together, sits faultlessly alongside such traditional standards and proves her ability as a shrewd songwriter.
The reality here may be that this is an album that even her most ardent admirers won’t listen to for more than a fortnight every year. But as festive albums go, this is a beguiling and often intriguing collection.
Reviewed by Rich Wilson for teamrock.com.
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