Album Review: Julia Stone - 'Everything Is Christmas'

10 December 2021 | 1:04 pm | Staff Writer

“Imagine the embrace of summer rain, ageing pine and mince pies… a comforting hug when you’re far from home. That is the gift of 'Everything Is Christmas'.”

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From a veteran member of the holiday retail trade, there are times when Christmas music seems to have lost its shine forever. And then there are albums like Julia Stone’s Everything Is Christmas that will coax even the most stubborn Grinches out from the grey.

Off the tails of her third studio album Sixty Summers released earlier this year, Stone has returned to bless fans and Christmas-lovers alike with her heartfelt collection of seasonal classics. Dusting each song like a lace of snowflakes, Stone’s signature vocals breathe a new revival into 14 beloved favourites, transforming each track with impeccable originality and artful instrumentation.

The fruit of human connection and compassion, Everything Is Christmas was brought to life by a tender circle of artists, including long-time friend and collaborator Thomas Bartlett (St Vincent, Norah Jones, Yoko Ono) partnering with Stone behind the production. Sweeping through toasty, warm folk and fragile, stripped-back ballads, this record is the perfect accompaniment to a roadside blur of gumtrees and stretching fields on the drive home for Christmas. Like a lungful of country air, Everything Is Christmas is a refreshing journey back through traditional carols and festive hits that will leave listeners awash with nostalgic contentment.

Setting the stage with twinkling chimes and radiant fiddles, the opening tracks It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas and Santa Claus Is Coming To Town glide into the album’s meandering momentum. All I Want For Christmas Is You then spins an unexpected turn, peeling back the skin on the iconic Mariah Carey smash to reveal an achingly sincere, goosebump-inducing masterpiece of feathery vocals and heavenly string swells. Showcasing Stone’s uniqueness and versatility, the collection continues with a chain of enchanting renditions, like the swinging Let It Snow and the sumptuously soothing White Christmas, before rounding off the record with a piano-paired farewell of Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas.

Although glimmering with an uplifting glow, what sets this album apart is its gentle nod to the heartache of the holiday season, acknowledging that it is often not all candy canes and jingle bells down the lane. Everything Is Christmas is both a testament to the pain of being separated from those you crave were close, as well as a celebration of joyous memories, new and old.

Imagine the embrace of summer rain, ageing pine and mince pies. The laughter of loved ones around a fire. A comforting hug when you’re far from home. That is the gift of Everything Is Christmas, guaranteed to keep giving for countless festive seasons to come.

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Written by Twistie Chaney