Ronan Keating - Winter Songs

2009-12-17 07:47
Winter Songs

Hot on the heels of the tragedy comes Winter Songs a festive flavoured compilation which Keating dedicated to the memory of Gately. The 32 year old Irishman had stated just before its release that this was a collection of songs that conjured some of his "favourite Christmas memories". On his trip down nostalgia he dares to tackle carols both traditional ("Silent Night") and modern ("Little Drummer Boy").

It is Keating's second cover-heavy offering of 2009 and sees him also braving originals performed by legends like Bob Dylan ("Ring Them Bells") and Simon & Garfunkel ("Homeward Bound"). The latter is not a typical festive choice but the keyboard and strings-laden melody about going back home to your loved one fits well with the mood of the album.

Some of his choices are at times expected such as the old favourite "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" while others not as much, like the pleas of a secret lover wanting to be more in "Stay" originally by Grammy award winning country group Sugarland.

Also included are two Keating originals. Beneath the simple piano melody of "Scars" there is a sense of sincerity in his voice as he wails "Everybody has regrets, wounds they wish would heal, clocks that won’t reset. But I wouldn't change a thing"."It's Only Christmas" is a sweeping ballad also about missing a friend that has unmistakable overtones of melancholy.

But it is ultimately this melancholy that makes the album compelling, the laid-back pace of it all combined with Keating's note perfect vocals conjures up images of lonely souls peeking out at the snow-covered streets while kinfolk huddle up around the fireplace exchanging gifts.

This is one of the most convincing seasonal releases to date, while many artists fill their Xmas albums too much with manufactured joviality that is too saccharine to stomach, Keating keeps it simple. There are no colossal choirs, jingling bells or sounds of sleighs and because of this Winter Songs feels less like a ploy to cash in on the festive season and more of an intimate mixtape from the man's own personal Christmas collection.

With the untimely death of Boyzone bandmember, Stephen Gately, frontman Ronan Keating's Christmas seems set to be more blue than snow white. It looks like he wants to share his pain with the world.

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