Once a year, we’re inundated with albums of Christmas songs we’ve heard a million times before, with the odd new song thrown in.
This year, Delta Goodrem has “done a Beyoncé” and surprise dropped her first Christmas album, ‘Only Santa Knows’.
Now while I’m firmly in the camp of “Mariah Carey is Christmas,” I also love adding new Christmas music to my playlists, but it has to be of the highest standard. i.e. you won’t find Ashanti or Gwen Stefani on my list sadly…
I’m also extremely cynical of Christmas albums (they feel like sales grabs so often…).
So has Delta hit solid gold (see what I did there!?) or landed in the discount bin?
Thankfully, she’s not straight off to the discount rack. What she’s managed to do with this album is capture a sound that oozes quality.
Delta and her musical collaborators have crafted something that feels rich and full – two sentiments that must be met for any Christmas album. Avoiding the thin sounding synths and getting some real strings (and she does, with the Sydney International Orchestra contributing) is what’s required when you want that authentic Christmas feel.
The more traditional songs hit home for me with ‘Deck The Halls’, ‘Silent Night’ and ‘Little Drummer Boy’ all screaming festive season. They are lush with string arrangements and choral contributions, which bring flashes of carolling in cold winters to mind.
There’s also something in the way she has interpreted these Christmas standards which feels genuine yet fresh.
There are also two original Christmas songs contributed here, with title track ‘Only Santa Knows’ being a bit of an earworm and ‘Merry Christmas To You’ featuring legend Olivia Newton-John.
Neither hit the highs of blockbuster Christmas originals we all love, but both are high quality and are great additions to any playlist.
I feel that the track ordering is a bit off to tell the story across the body of work. With the album format being less and less listened to, greater care must be made when pulling everything together. At times the songs jolt around a bit and I feel the album could have been smoothed out a bit further with some reordering.
The other problem I have with this album release is that it lands mid-flight of the DG6 campaign, with several non-Christmas tracks already being pushed as singles.
It feels a little messy (and yes, I’m sure COVID had something to do with it, but plenty of other artists have found ways to make it work), yet I’m sure fans are grateful for the album either way.
My final thought is that if you want to find a single moment on ‘Only Santa Knows’ to capture the essence of the album, look no further than ‘Silent Night’ with Gurrumul. It evokes the perfect feeling of what Christmas is here in Australia and around the world on so many levels. I dare you not to get goosebumps.
So we have to wait a little longer for DG6 (now technically DG7, but who’s counting?), however this is a suitable stand in.
It’s the time of year for celebrating in whatever way we can and being festive and merry.
If you are celebrating this year, be sure to add this album to your playlists and remove any dud albums you’ve been wheeling out year after year (think Jessica Simpson or *NSYNC).
Delta’s ‘Only Santa Knows’ a good Christmas album – and one worth keeping for the long haul.
VERDICT : 4/5.
MUST LISTEN : Only Santa Knows, Deck The Halls, Silent Night.