In a world full of Christmas albums that sound pretty much the same, Annie Lennox has given us a singular recording indeed, a nice mix of well-known and less familiar Christmas songs delivered with her unique vocal stylings and musical arrangements. It is difficult to explain the vocals on this album -powerful, focused, intense, and very well enunciated all come to mind. This is one of those occasions when I wish I had purchased the CD rather than download the album online. I understand that Lennox played a variety of instruments herself, but I have no way of knowing those details. Make no mistake about it, though - Annie Lennox puts her own personal stamp on even the most familiar of songs, making the old new again with bold new arrangements, yet somehow staying true to tradition at the same time. As a traditionalist myself, I usually have no use for anyone mucking around with the sounds of classic hymns and traditional Christmas carols, but I love what Lennox has done here. It's uncannily pleasing.
If you want to sing along to some Christmas favorites, this isn't your album. I wouldn't really recommend A Christmas Cornucopia for parties or small gatherings, either. This seems to me to be a Christmas album designed for quiet contemplation, with the hauntingly beautiful music almost demanding the listener's constant attention and concentration. Many will love it, some will hate it, but none dare call it conventional or unassuming. There is a mournful and reverent quality to every song. I personally find inspiration in even the darkest of tracks, such as God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen and Lullay Lullay (Coventry Carol), but there is regal majesty in Angels From the Realms of Glory, quiet beauty in Silent Night, and wonder of various kinds to be experienced throughout the entire album. The overall theme is one of hope and peace, a message which is epitomized in the final track, Universal Child, which Lennox wrote herself. A Christmas Cornucopia is simply an amazing Christmas album like no other.