Sanna, Shirley & Sonja

Our Christmas

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After performing together on the 2008 Sommer Sommer Sommer tour, regular Melodifestivalen entrants Shirley Clamp, Sanna Nielsen, and Sonya Aldén team up for a festive album, simply titled Our Christmas. Like recent yuletide efforts from fellow Swedes Carola and Charlotte Perelli, this 12-track collaborative effort eschews their trademark anthemic schlager-pop sound in favor of a more refined and sophisticated approach that blends stripped-back acoustic production with the trio's unusually understated vocals. A straightforward karaoke-style cover version of "All I Want for Christmas" was always going to pale in comparison to the joyous Mariah Carey original, but elsewhere they more than hold their own on the string-soaked reworking of Chris Rea's "Driving Home for Christmas," the cocktail-bar arrangement of the Nat King Cole Trio's "The Christmas Song," and the gorgeously melancholic rendition of Judy Garland's "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas." Alongside the classic standards and respectful performances of traditional carols "Silent Night," "O Holy Night," and "The First Noel," there are also a few lesser-known seasonal pieces thrown into the mix, including Christian vocal group Avalon's inspirational "Light a Candle" and Donny Hathaway's underrated R&B effort "This Christmas." Meanwhile, the album's sole original composition, "Another Winter Night," a gloriously overblown "All by Myself"-esque power ballad that laments the bleakness of a Christmas alone, is just as wintry as the more familiar material, and really allows Sanna, Shirley & Sonja to unleash their otherwise suppressed powerhouse vocals. The new track aside, there's nothing on Our Christmas that hasn't been heard before on countless other festive albums, but this surprisingly restrained effort will make fans of schlager-pop divas feel like all their Christmases have come at once.

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