X-Factor contestants are not generally known for long-lasting and credible careers. But every now and then one slips through the net. Rebecca Ferguson is still doing the business. Little Mix are topping charts all over the place, and of course One Direction took over the world. 2011 contestant Janet Devlin didn’t win the show. In fact, she didn’t even make the final, but she certainly used the show as a platform to showcase herself as unique and quirky artist. Since the show she has build up a dedicated fan base, toured, and produced a fantastic debut album.
Now I’m a sucker for Christmas. I’m always the first to get the festive tunes on to a glass of mulled wine. This year Ive been beaten to it, as Janet Devlin releases this six track mini-album way ahead of the festive season. And she obviously loves Christmas as much as I do. ‘Little Lights’ is her second collection of Christmas tunes in as many years. But Devlin is one cool customer. Instead of the usual layered up sound you’d associate with Christmas music, she instead delves into her Irish heritage to put a folky twist on things.
The six track collection is made up of six original tracks and two covers of classic festive songs. You no doubt will be fed up of Slade’s ‘Merry Xmas Everybody’ by the time it gets to new year (if you’re not already). Janet Devlin’s cover however turns the track on its head, and transforms the big glam rock number into sensitive and sentimental ballad. The other cover is ‘White Christmas’. There’s probably nothing more to be added to a song that has been covered by so many artists before her. It almost seems compulsory covering, but it fits into the album perfectly with minimal adjustment.
Along with the merriment of Christmas, no festive album would be complete without a ‘lonely-at Christmas’ song, and it’s on melancholy opener ‘Wake Up It’s Christmas’ that Devlin paints a picture of spending Christmas without the one you love. During her time on X-factor, she was never one of the big power vocalists. Her voice fits music like this perfectly. It is subtle and full of genuine emotion.
‘Merry Christmas Mum & Dad’ is probably the song that describes what Christmas is all about, all told with her usual vivid narrative. Forget songs about the material gain of Christmas. Instead she tells a story of a happy childhood in which she had all she needed by being part of a loving family. A sweet sentiment without being over-sentimental.
‘Little Lights’ is an album that will ease you gently into Christmas, rather than shoving it in your face. And when you’ve heard all the Shakin’ Stevens and Cliff Richard you can cope with (and let’s face it that doesn’t take long), then this will be a great alternative to listen to with your turkey. The first great Christmas album of the year, that can no doubt be played year after year.