TARJA – From Spirits and Ghosts + Christmas Together (Reissue/Expanded)
Tarja Turunen’s (ex-Nightwish) latest offering is a 2CD set containing a reissue/expanded edition of her "From Spirits and Ghosts (Score for a Dark Christmas)" from 2017 and then a second disc consisting of a previously unreleased live performance culled from last year, and the whole thing is generally quite moving and beautiful thanks to its huge soundscapes.
The way in which the strings and soaring vocals are woven together lends a certain weight and bombast to these creative renditions of well-known Christmas tunes and carols, and the affair is steeped in melancholy and wintry atmospheres. In other words, I like the inventiveness of it all and the way in which these classics that we have all heard growing up have been reimagined, and the song material falls somewhere between the intriguing and the familiar, which is cool. There are plenty of craphole Christmas records out there, but thankfully, "From Spirits and Ghosts" is not one of them although it does occasionally veer off into sickeningly pompous territory. "Feliz Navidad" will forever be one of the most atrocious compositions of all time but by some miracle Tarja has turned it into something pretty decent and acceptable. Her version of "Walking on the Air", which turns up on the live disc, is bone-chillingly brilliant and the studio version of "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" is superb too. Speaking of the live show ("Christmas Together: Live at Olomouc and Hradec Králové 2019"), there is a warm, intimate vibe to it that is rather appealing and the operatic feel of it all works really well in this setting and the pieces sound crisp, clear, and confident.
"From Spirits and Ghosts" is not exactly a musical triumph but rather a pleasant and enjoyable experience with a gothic touch to it and plenty of majestic, sweeping melodies as well as a fair share of haunting passages. A good musical accompaniment to a cold and frosty evening that calls out for something dramatic and grandiose. As far as Christmas albums go, this one is not bad at all.