It’s been almost ten years since Andrea Corr, singer and instrumentalist with Irish folk-rock group The Corrs, released her last solo album. Issued in 2011, Lifelines saw her pay homage to the likes of The Doors, Kirsty MacColl and John Lennon – artists whose work has provided inspiration throughout her life. With her four-track Christmas Songs EP, released on 25 November 2020, she returned to some of her childhood memories for a collection of traditional Carols that she has been in love with “since before I know”.
Listen to Christmas Songs here
“They let you know you are not alone”
“Christmas is that time where you reflect,” Corr tells Dig! “After my mother died, my dad used to say – and I know this is pretty sad, but I think it’s true – ‘Christmas is a time of absences.’” With the world still coming to terms with the large-scale losses brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, Corr felt that sentiment “has never resonated so much with me as it did this year. There’s so much loss to come to terms with. There are many people that will be around a Christmas table, having to accept the empty chair, looking to move on.”
Those searching for solace will find it in her Christmas Songs EP, whose focus on some of the sadder Christmas carols – Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas, In The Bleak Midwinter and O Holy Night – is offset by the consoling warmth of Andrea Corr’s delivery, and the intimacy of the arrangements. “Like love songs, they romanticise this pain, in a way – they let you know that you are not alone in that. And there’s comfort there,” Corr says.
“Christmas songs have watched us grow”
Not that Christmas Songs was recorded in response to COVID-19; it’s just that the timing was right. The idea for the project, however, came from a performance that Corr gave at Our Lady’s Hospice in Harold’s Cross, Dublin, in December 2019. Asked to turn on the lights and sing a few Christmas songs in order to raise funds for the health care facilities, Corr found that the event had a “profound effect” on her. “This last stop for the living. Those gates I walk by every day,” she says. “And the concert itself was inspiring, because I sang with a male choir, which was beautiful.” Visitors gathered to light candles in memory of their loved ones, sharing a communal grief that social-distancing measures have made impossible in 2020. “It was such a lovely experience that I wanted to do something this year, because you can’t do any of these fundraisers now. And the lyrics of these Christmas songs resonated even more, and seemed even more important in these times.