Album review: Sleeping at Last’s Christmas collection

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Looking forward to the holidays as university students is a uniquely exhausting experience as the mirth of the season is dampened down by an influx of deadlines and last-minute cram sessions. Sleeping At Last’s Christmas Collection, Vol. 1 is a refreshingly tender and intimate take on your classic holiday tunes, making the album the perfect study-time companion.

The cumulation of Ryan O’Neal’s tradition of recording one or two Christmas songs each year, Christmas Collection, Vol. 1 is simple yet timeless. It sheds the overproduction that lends itself to many artists’ compulsion to put out a mandatory Christmas album, eager to remix the classics.

O’Neal calls back to the names that popularized  these tunes, but at the same time deftly weaves the stripped down sincerity that Sleeping At Last is known for. He explains in the Sleeping At Last podcast that, despite the recordings being spread throughout more than a decade, he wanted to be consistent in having these songs emanate the light and hope that the holiday season ushers in.

O’Neal’s lone voice resonating in the first few seconds of “The First Noel” is filled with clarity that calls to mind a vision of that same cloudless sky overhead Bethlehem. “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” is captivatingly haunting with its sweeping strings, a reminder of the destiny of the small child born unto the Virgin Mary.

Whether you’re of Christian faith or not, Christmas Collection, Vol. 1 covers the whole spectrum of emotions that come with the holidays, from loneliness to hope, heartbreak to joy, making those cold dreary days filled with studying a bit more bearable.

Notable Tracks include: The First Noel, O Come, O Come Emmanuel, Silver Bells, and Christmas is All Around.

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