Decca (UMO) (Classics)

The reliable cosiness of Michael Ball and Alfie Boe singing Christmas classics is probably just what many people need at the end of a year of unexpected challenges and stress. Like a Premier Inn room, listeners get exactly what they expect as the hugely popular pairing pack their fourth duet album with Christmas classics such as O Holy Night and Silent Night as well as pop hits such as Mistletoe And Wine, White Christmas and Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas.

Gregory Porter joins the duo for a gentle reworking of The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire). New song My Christmas Will Be Better Than Yours is a light-hearted and entertaining duet and a spine-tingling version of I Believe, a song written nearly 70 years ago to give people hope, is perfectly timed. Ball's melodic voice and Boe's deep tenor work well together but it is the warmth of their long-standing friendship, which began on a 2006 production of Kismet, which gives this album true Christmas cheer.

Beverley Rouse